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EDITOR’S NOTE

IT’S TIME TO LISTEN ... AND LET GO

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few years after I moved to Northern California in the 1990s, I became a fitness instructor. Teaching fitness was the perfect balance to writing magazine articles and that proverbial “Great American Novel” in coastal coffeehouses. I prided myself on being fit and healthy (and no, that’s not me pictured), and educating students that healthy living is more than just physical exercise—that there is an entire mind-body-spirit element to living a healthy life, and, when either of those aspects are off, imbalance occurs. This is why a few years ago, I became more captivated with psycho-acoustic sound therapy. That term may sound trippy to some, but beyond the science

of the healing art form—also known as Tibetan Bowl Sound Meditations or sound baths—I have truly been inspired by how this kind of “therapy” brings balance back into one’s life. Enter: Billy Cordell. We feature the local holistic impresario in this edition of Healthy Life Choices. Cordell trained to be a certified Tibetan Bowl Sound Healer. He explains how he made the connection between holistic healing, his yoga practice, and the unique spa treatments he offers at La Quinta’s Bliss Chakra Spa. He also points out that the sound waves emanating off of the bowls are able to affect the cells within the human body. There’s so much to absorb about Cordell’s fascinating practice, so turn to page 12 to learn where

you can also attend his weekly sessions. In between, take note of other enterprising locals in the health field, as well as upcoming health events this season, health updates, and much more. Breathe. (And see you at a sound bath.) Greg Archer Editor

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The holidays and big meals seem like perfect partners. But these health-related events promise to offer more balance during the season. 7

How one local man’s ambitious efforts to introduce weekly sound meditations to Valley residents is producing positive ripple effects.

SAY HELLO TO WELLNESS

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Mark your calendars: The annual Health, Beauty and Wellness Expo features the latest in alternative medicine and groundbreaking new therapies. 8

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COMMUNITY POWER 24

TURKEY TALK

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DOCTOR, DOCTOR

SAFETY MEASURES Gun safety. Take our quiz and see how much more you may need to learn.

Want to understand the best way to get the most nourishment from your holiday meals? Read this.

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A healthy mind is vital. Learn how Dr. Kay Vogt offers a path to getting there.

Inside the current evolution of HARC (Health Assessment and Research for Communities). 10

SOUNDING OFF

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SENIOR HEALTH Everything in balance—literally. These latest health findings may inspire you. HEY, GUYS! Our up-to-date report on mens healh.

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PET PROJECTS You, your pet, and their health. What you can do to enhance the lives of your “senior” pets.

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THE Q&A Twenty-six yoga poses in a room heated to 105 degrees? Are we nuts? Not at all. It’s Bikram Yoga, and it’s one of the most innovative ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One woman shares her journey.


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FILM FEST—AND A 5 AND 10K The Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Red Carpet 5 and 10K never lacks color.

HEALTHY HAPPENINGS

BY ALISON ELSNER

EVENTS TO RELISH THIS HOLIDAY SEASON—AND BEYOND

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he holiday season automatically means surrendering to the overindulgence of food and drink—and the diet goes out the festive window. But, there are a number of upcoming events that will keep you focused on health and wellness before, during and after the holiday celebrations. With the beautiful Coachella Valley winter weather, there’s really no excuse to stay on the sidelines. Take note—and indulge.

WILD TURKEY TROT 5K Running Wild’s annual 5K will again gather runners on Thanksgiving Day in down-

town Palm Springs. Starting and finishing on Palm Canyon Drive, all runners will receive a long sleeve tech T-shirt, turkey hat, finisher medal and finish line photo download. The event supports the Mizell Center’s Meals on Wheels program. Entrance fee is $35 for all ages. 8-10:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 24, 101 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. For more information or to register, contact 760-413-6508, email psmarathonrunners@gmail.com, or visit runpalmsprings.com.

FORTEM FINANCIAL 5K BENEFITING MARTHA’S VILLAGE AND KITCHEN The 10th annual charity race, presented by Carl’s Jr. and KMIR, is both competitive and casual with prizes for the winners in several age categories. The race welcomes 4,000 joggers, walkers, strollers and even pets. Funds raised directly benefit Martha’s Village and Kitchen to help better the lives of the homeless and impoverished in the Coachella Valley. This year, the race will include an all

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<<< CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3 new Kids Zone and a Beer Garden (healthy, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re sure) hosted by La Quinta Brewing Company. All participants receive a longsleeve, dri-fit shirt and a goody bag. Registration is $32 for kids, $40 for adults. 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 24, 73545 El Paseo, Palm Desert (The Gardens on El Paseo, corner of San Pablo). For more information or to register, contact 760-347-4741, email erosenthal@marthasvillage.org or visit marthasvillage.org/5k.

PATHWAY TO HEALTH, BEAUTY AND WELLNESS EXPO This event will feature headline speakers, seminars and workshops on topics such as magnetic pulse for pets, medical marijuana, incontinence, neuropathy treatments and healthy eating. Vendors, prizes and giveaways will be featured as will face-time with physicians and local businesspersons in the health industry. The venue will be completely smoke-free. Admission and parking are free. The event runs 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1. Agua Caliente Resort Casino and Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. Call 760-2024007 or email bettekingproductions43@gmail. com. Visit bettekingproductions.com.

SANTA PAWS 5K BENEFITING GUIDE DOGS OF THE DESERT The Palm Springs Lions Club presents the 5th anniversary of this spirited event, a run/ walk benefitting Guide Dogs of the Desert. You are invited to join 700 costumed Santas and elves as they ho-ho-ho their way through the beautiful Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs. Each participant receives a 5-piece Santa suit (beard included) along with a holiday tech T-shirt, finisher medal, finisher and posed photo downloads and even milk and cookies at the finish line. Registration fee is $35 for all ages. The event takes place 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, American Legion, 400 N. Belardo, Palm Springs. For more information or to register, call 760-413-6508, email psmarathonrunners@ gmail.com, or visit runpalmsprings.com.

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WALK FOR A CAUSE The 18th annual Walk To End Alzheimerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s takes place Feb. 18, 2017.


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19TH ANNUAL TOUR DE PALM SPRINGS The well-known bike ride / race, presented by CVSPIN (Coachella Valley Serving People in Need) is â&#x20AC;&#x153;gearedâ&#x20AC;? for all ages and fitness levels. Routes range from 10 miles to 100 miles, with a walk following at approximately 10 a.m. The ride supports more than 150 local charities with proceeds that now top $250,000. Individual registration ranges from $15 to $47.40, and placement on a team is also available. Pre-registration is encouraged, especially to receive a snazzy tee shirt.

AND THE WINNER IS ... The Palm Springs International Film Festival goes beyond the cinema with this race.

PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL RED CARPET RUN 5K & 10K

also receive an Oscar Trophy, champagne, and finish line and posed photo downloads. Registration fee is $35 for all ages.

Beginning and ending on the red carpet, this run was named one of the Top 10 movie-themed races in the county by Shape. com, with the route passing by iconic celebrity homes. Ladies wear tutus and tiaras while men don their tuxedo tees. Runners

The fun unfolds 8-11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, American Legion, 400 N. Belardo, Palm Springs. For more information or to register, call 760-413-6508, email psmarathonrunners@ gmail.com, or visit runpalmsprings.com.

The event begins at 6:30 a.m. (with staggered departures), Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20 and 21. Corner of Alejo and North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. For more registration information, visit tourdepalmsprings.com.

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DATEBOOK

AND THE WINNER IS ... Tour de Palm Springs (left) enters its 19th year in 2017. Meanwhile, Santa Paws 5/10K benefiting Guide Dogs of the Desert ventures forth. <<< CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5

18TH ANNUAL WALK TO END ALZHEIMER’S The event, coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Association, welcomes individuals and teams. All funds raised will advance care,

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support and research to combat Alzheimer’s Disease. The two-mile walk will wind its way through the scenic park on a clearly marked path accessible to wheelchairs and strollers as well as walkers of all ages, speeds and fitness levels. The walk will finish at the park’s amphitheater where a health fair, festivities and awards will take place. Free, but team

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fund-raising is encouraged and commemorative T-shirts are available for $100 each. 8 a.m. (registration) and 9 a.m. (opening ceremonies and walk), Saturday, Feb. 18, Palm Desert Civic Center Park, 43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert. Call 760-996-0006 or visit act. alz.org for more information.


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n: Good Health. Out: Excuses not to experience it. Fortunately, Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is host to the upcoming Pathway to Health, Beauty and Wellness on Dec. 1. The event stands out from most health fairs in the Coachella Valley for a number of reasons. Here, guests receive a great deal of health information and learn about—and are exposed to—brand new services and products as well as cutting-edge technologies. These are all featured at the show, and, of course, offered here in the desert, too. There’s also many opportunities to speak directly to healthcare professionals and representatives of products, especially practitioners new to the Coachella Valley. This a perfect opportunity to ask questions about products and services. The one-day event also boasts a variety of speakers, seminars, workshops and demonstrations. Some vendors’ focus will be on healthy eating. Meanwhile, vendors are also offering giveaways and prizes, and much more. Topics of discussion to be covered include: • Incontinence • New cancer treatments • Alternative medicine treatments • Aging issues All of this will be coupled with many new beauty technologies and several keynote speakers as well as professionals dealing with their own subjects. This will certainly keep audiences intrigued. To learn more about the event, or to sign up, visit www.bettekingproductions.com. To sign up for the speakers, seminars and workshops to reserve your seat, just select a time of day for an event. If you are a potential vendor, contact Bette King at bettekingproductions43@gmail.com or call 760-202-4007 for information about cost and placement at the event. Best of all: You can keep up with current advancements in medicine, and beauty products and treatments, and enhance your life and appearance. You definitely will walk away from this feeling inspired, having experienced one of the more memorable health events of the season. Agua Caliente Casino Resoort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. For more information, visit bettekingproductions.com.

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SPOTLIGHT

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t’s good to be 10. Earlier this year, HARC (Health Assessment and Research for Communities) announced that it is celebrating its tenth anniversary. That’s certainly a good amount of time to provide critical data to local organizations. Still, a look back may offer some insight into the work HARC has been doing. For the last 10 years, HARC has provided objective, reliable research, analysis and technical services to local organizations, nonprofits and Coachella Valley communities to facilitate better decision-making regarding health and quality of life. HARC’s work spans many diverse fields, all with the common theme of improving lives. It’s also improving its look—HARC is observing its new decade with newly redesigned website, a new logo and a new blog. Since HARC was founded in 2006, the organization has conducted extensive research on a wide range of topics, including mental and physical health issues, areas of deficiency in current methods of treating at-risk community members, and other important health-related matters. It publishes its results every three years in a free report called the Community Health Monitor. Local organizations use the unique and valu-

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able data contained in the report to create and evaluate the success of community programs and strengthen their funding requests. This data has enabled more than 40 local organizations to raise more than $12.8 million for critically needed programs and services such as free HIV tests, meal delivery for home-bound seniors, transportation for people with disabilities, and much more. “It is staggering to think about the many Coachella Valley lives HARC has directly or indirectly influenced over the last decade,” says Jenna LeComte-Hinely, PhD, chief executive officer of HARC, Inc. “We are proud that our hard work has allowed so many local organizations to better serve their clients and continue to enrich the lives of the residents of the entire Coachella Valley.”

THE ORIGIN OF HARC The Coachella Valley is a unique community within Riverside County, so county-level data often does not meet the needs of the local service providers or tell the story of the health needs of those living in the Valley. Initially under the umbrella of the Desert Healthcare Foundation, and with financial support from the California Wellness Foundation, HARC

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was formed in 2006 to provide objective, reliable Coachella Valley-specific data.  Since then, HARC has had dozens of clients and hundreds of data users (individuals who access the free data). In addition to producing its triennial health survey, HARC also offers custom consulting and research.

COACHELLA VALLEY COMMUNITY HEALTH SURVEY Every three years, HARC produces the Community Health Monitor (CHM), which provides vital information about health and quality of life in the region. The CHM has been conducted 2007, 2010, and 2013. The 2016 CHM is underway and results will be announced in early 2017. Organizations rely on the CMH because it highlights health issues, focuses local efforts to address current and future health disparities, and most notably, enables a wide range of local non-profit organizations to increase requests for funding by providing objective and reliable data. The data provided by this Coachella Valley Community Health Survey is used by nonprofits, hospitals, higher education, K-12 education, governmental agencies, and media organizations,


SPOTLIGHT

among others. These organizations use the data to apply for funding, create presentations/lectures, prioritize health needs, develop programs to address those needs, write articles, design and conduct trainings, and make/change policy.

HARC’S CONSULTING SERVICES In addition to the Community Health Monitor, HARC provides customized research and evaluation services. These services include program evaluation, needs assessments, data analysis, workplace wellness services, and much more. In 2009, HARC began offering these services with a single client. In 2010, this expanded to five clients, and then doubled to 10 in 2011. It continued this expansion trend by providing consultation services to 18 clients. “We are thrilled to be able to utilize our expertise to help companies asses their programs and develop services that impact the lives of every Coachella Valley resident,” notes LeComte-Hinely. “Our consulting services are designed to give our clients the in-

formation they need to make optimal business decisions. We work closely with every client to ensure that the services meet the client’s needs, timeline, and budget.” In the last decade, HARC has helped the community in many ways. Its data has made it possible for partners to provide HIV testing for everyone, meals for hungry seniors,

mental health counseling for children in schools, evidence-based pregnancy prevention education for teens, and many more important programs. To learn more about HARC, a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization based in Palm Desert, visit harcdata.org or call 760-404-1945.

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SPOTLIGHT

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heer and goodwill aren’t the only things Americans share during the holiday season. We also swap germs, overindulge in seasonal foods and spirits, and stew in stress - all of which can lead to digestive woes. You know you’ll have to work hard at selfcontrol if you don’t want the numbers on the scale to climb by the end of the holiday season. But you can also take steps to minimize stomach upset, indigestion, bloating, reflux and general intestinal distress during the holidays. Holiday foods taste good because they’re often rich, and high in fat and sugar—qualities that cause not only weight gain but also digestive discomfort. During this hectic time of year, most of us eat more, especially at celebrations. Giving up holiday treats and favorite dishes would be like going through the season without a single cornucopia or twinkling decoration. Rather than suffering digestive distress through indulgence, or choosing to deprive yourself entirely, start with a plan for how you’ll deal with holiday digestive upset, then take action.

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Do This, Feel Better Stay Hydrated: The hectic pace of the holidays may make you forget to drink enough water. What’s more, overindulging in holiday libations like cocktails, wine, champagne and beer can actually dehydrate your body. Non-alcoholic sugary beverages like mulled cider, hot chocolate and pumpkin-flavored coffees can also throw off your body’s balance. Remember to drink plenty of water every day throughout the holidays. Prioritize Food Choices: Sure, that slice of pumpkin pie looks great on the plate and tastes yummy going down, but will it be worth the heartburn and bloating you’ll experience later? Raw veggies are a healthful and fiber-filled alternative to fatty hors d’oeuvres, but be aware that raw vegetables can also cause bloating and gas. Pay attention to the foods that trigger discomfort and decide how important they really are. You may be able to substitute something else

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that’s just as satisfying but less upsetting to your stomach. Promote Gut Health: If your digestive tract is already in good shape, it will be better equipped to handle occasional holiday overindulgence. Taking a probiotic supplement, like Family Flora Daily Balance, can support the growth of good gut bacteria that aid in digestion. Family Flora’s DualAction formula helps populate the gut with healthy bacteria and also provides prebiotics, the “food” that helps probiotic bacteria thrive and multiply inside the body. The probiotic + non-GMO prebiotic blend helps promote improved digestion, support gut flora renewal and colon health, and maintain healthier gastrointestinal function. The neutral-tasting powder can be mixed into any cold food or beverage. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Visit familyflora.com to learn more.


SPOTLIGHT

bite or two—can rack up the calories, fat and sugar. Instead, choose just a few favorites to have at each meal. If you have a spoon of green bean casserole with your Thanksgiving turkey, pass on the yams and plan to have them with tomorrow’s leftovers.

Reduce Portion Sizes: Do you give yourself license to overindulge during the holidays, figuring you’ll pay for it later when you step on the scale? Large portions can also make you pay for them right away when you feel indigestion or reflux after finishing a big meal. Reducing portion sizes can help ease holiday strain on your stomach and digestive tract. One easy trick for controlling portion sizes: Serve yourself on a dessert-size

dish, rather than a large dinner plate. Smaller portions will look like more on a smaller plate. Limit Variety: Whether a buffet or a sitdown dinner, holiday meals often feature multiple dishes that just look so good you want to try them all. Mixing too many different foods, however, can lead to stomach upset. Trying everything—even if it’s just a

Keep Exercising: Along with all the other benefits exercise brings, it can also promote digestive health. In addition to its positive physical effects, exercise can also help relieve holiday stress - a contributor to holiday stomach upset. Whether it’s an hour at the gym or 30 minutes on a yoga mat in your living room, it’s important to maintain an exercise regimen throughout the holidays. The holidays are meant to be a time of enjoyment, and that includes eating foods you just don’t have around at other times of the year. With some proactive steps, you can help ensure your holidays stay bright and your stomach stays healthy throughout the season. Courtesy of BPT.

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COVER STORY

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wo giant ornate gongs and more than a dozen Tibetan and crystal singing bowls compete for valuable real estate on a Sunday evening in a dimly lit room of a modern Palm Desert yoga studio. It is in this blissful portal where Billy Cordell, an Indio native, is about to give 25 people the sounds of their lives—with a sound bath. No, there isn’t any H20 involved. Rather, this sound healing session, one of many the certified sound and massage therapist/Bikram Yoga instructor offers to valley residents regularly, has a different kind of ripple effect. Attendees lie on the floor and allow sound waves to “wash” over them. Cordell also offers these sound therapy sessions at La Quinta’s Bliss Chakra Spa. The benefits of what has also been dubbed, “psychoacoustic sound therapy,” is truly vast. More on that in a moment … Cordell became interested in natural healing after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 21—he’s now 45. He says he was unhappy with the side effects

of the medications he was taking, and after a few years, and some traveling as a musician, he began having more difficulties with Crohn’s, as well as several back issues. An exploration of more holistic health options was suddenly on his agenda. Beyond sound therapy, he also began taking Bikram Yoga classes, and after two years of practicing, he left his music career and took a nine-week Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in 2013. “Helping others discover a yoga that has healed my body, mind and soul, has been very fulfilling,” Cordell says. “There’s always work to do on ourselves but this really pushed me into the right direction and helped me to start looking at myself—to take responsibility for myself and to love who I am.” Cordell has practiced meditation on his own since he was in his twenties, mostly to help relieve stress, one on the main factors that, he says, contributed to the Crohn’s disease. But he really morphed into a bona fide sound bath meditation facilitator a

few years ago. “I was always attracted to the sounds of the singing bowls and the affect they have on my body,” he adds. Here, Cordell opens up more about his journey, the remarkable healing effects of sound meditations, and so much more. Healthy Life Choices: What do you love most about what you are doing? Billy Cordell: That’s the easiest question and the shortest answer: Helping others heal themselves. I love to see the response and seeing the help this can provide. It’s connected to all that I do. They are all modalities of helping humans heal.” Talk about what actually happens when somebody is in a sound bath. What happens to, say, the cells in body? There’s a science to it, yes?

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BOLDLY GONG WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE Lay down ... and allow these tonal frequencies to affect your body in a positive way.

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SOUNDING OFF Each “singing bowl” resonates a different tone. Each tone offfers health benefits to the body.

<<< CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13 When imbalance occurs, cells and organs are affected and disease can form. Everything is frequency and has a resonance and vibrational tone. What sound therapy does is help balance and harmonize the frequencies so the body is more in rhythm with itself—basically so that disease does not occur. The relaxed state of our brains is where we do our best work. The more we over-think, the more time we spend having negative thoughts … the impact tends to stress the body more. This is where the disharmony begins. Our bodies can become more relaxed with the energy and vibration of sound bowls and gong vibrations. Our autonomic nervous system is affected with changes in physiological activity of heart rate and lower blood pressure. Stress is released.

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What it’s actually like for you, as a facilitator? What do you feel? What is it like moving all that ‘energy’ around? There’s a “space” that I become the facilitator. So I use the knowledge and techniques, and open myself up to listening to the sounds for guidance to know what needs to be worked on. The vibrations change and respond to the body’s energy. We are all vibration and energy; the bowls are Dharma—absolute truth. So they respond. I listen. And every session is different. Sound baths have a life of their own because there are 15-35 people in a room and that much energy awakens. I follow where to go and listen.

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Like a letting go? Yes. I let myself go in a sound bath—to take in more information. Energy can be light at times and I’ll bring it up to a level that will benefit the whole group. Or sometimes, it will be heavy and need to bring more lightness to the session. I love to play with the energy. It’s like seeing and dancing with it because there are so many people in there. You have the ability to work on yourself or go on a journey. It really depends on the individual. All belief systems are welcome. It’s a spiritual experience and it’s personal to each person who attends—bringing your love and life to a space of happiness. Whatever takes you there is always welcome at my sound baths.


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Where did you learn to do this? In Encinitas, studying at Tibetan Singing Bowl School with Diane Mandle. She’s the best in the sound-healing field, in my opinion, because she made sense of how to use the bowls correctly, using direction of energy and Tibetan philosophy of how the monks would use them in a healing session. There are actual techniques to make this a successful treatment. The use of polarity therapy with the bowls as well can enhance the session. It’s not just hitting or singing the bowls, although they do sound beautiful and the vibration will always open chakras. It’s more about how to use them correctly. Every type of bowl does something different so when working with clients you can use a bowl for a certain situation that arises. Dr. Mitch Gaynor was a huge influence. His work as an oncologist and patients using sound healing brought it to a level of science. The studies showed the

difference of taking two groups of patients and having one group use sound therapy during chemotherapy and how their body responded to a group without it. The group that used sound therapy had a big change in how much more their body responded to the chemo—it how it helped them stay more at ease and balanced for a faster recovery rate. Tell me more about what led you to do this work? Being a musician and loving sounds and vibrations guided me to this modality. I think once I had my own transformation and learned my path was much different than it used to be … that’s where is all started. I wanted to serve the community and help others. Yoga changed my life and sound needed to be apart of my life in a form of healing. The feeling I got from the sound sessions I had with my mentor started connecting the worlds. The ability to use

sound to bring people on a journey of selfhealing and exploration was exactly what I’ve been looking for. I wanted to bring it to as many as possible and this was the form I discovered for this to all make sense. At Bliss Chakra Spa, I will use sound with my massages and incorporate a full body massage and use the sound bowls for extra to really take the client into a state of relaxation and rejuvenation. I now have a place where I can bring these unique modalities to the public and that’s really something special that I never envisioned. It just fell into place naturally and organically. What’s the biggest misconception about the sound baths? I’ve been asked if there is water involved or if it will hurt. People really don’t know the affects it has on the brain. It guides you. It takes you to an Alpha, Theta and eventu-

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COVER STORY

GONG, BABY, GONG Catch a soundwave weekly at various health establishments around the Valley.

that don’t support a healthy life and to release those issues.

<<< CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15 ally, a Delta brainwave, which is where we are most relaxed and our body begins its self-healing. It’s very affective with anxiety, depression, and disease caused by an imbalance within one’s life. I work with cancer clients privately and our goal is not to replace western medicine but to re-enforce it. By relaxing the mind and body, it allows the medicine to work more efficiently because the body is under less stress. I’ve seen great success with one of my clients who just finished up chemo and had great results with sound—it changed the way the body reacted to the chemotherapy. Sometimes these are in private sessions? Yes … with placing of bowls upon the body in a specific arrangement to help bring the bodies natural rhythms back into balance. Think of music, and how when we are having a stressful day, the right music really helps us relax. Sound is not only heard through the ears but the vibrations penetrate at a cellular level. The body listens. I want people to experience life in there at a different level; to help them find the issues

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Any favorite bowls? I know you have a big gong, too—several in fact. I’m curious if any of the bowls stand out for you in terms of connection? I love the bigger deeper sounds. I played bass guitar for 30-plus years, so the deep tones have always been something I’m drawn to. The gongs are so powerful and create so many sounds and they just move through my entire body. You have to think: The human body is made up of approximately 60-70 percent water and if you have ever dropped a pebble in the water and watch the ripple effect it creates … think of the body. It’s affected by sound the same way. Sound penetrates to a cellular level and balances out our cells. The many tones are beautiful. Even if you aren’t looking for healing of any source, the experience of sound is truly amazing on its own. I welcome everyone to try it. Billy Cordell offers weekly group sound healing sessions at various locations around the Valley, including Bikram Yoga University Village (Palm Desert) and Bikram Yoga Palm Desert. Discover more at blisschakraspa.com.

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Sound Off

Two other places to consider for sound healing sessions in the Valley.

Integratron Sound is nutrition for the nervous system. One of the most popular attractions in the area, this portal in nearby Landers allows guests to rest in what it calls a “deeply resonant, multi-wave sound chamber.” All this while a sequence of quartz crystal singing bowls are played—each one is keyed to the energy centers or chakras of the body. Book ahead at integratron.com.

Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa One of the most inviting destinations in Desert Hot Springs wins high points for luring in local Wyatt Smith for regularly scheduled sound baths. For a schedule and other information, email Wyatt Smith at soundbath.ps@gmail.com or visit twobunchpalms.com.


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Dr. Kay Vogt and Mental Health A woman on the cutting edge of hope BY LUCINDA SUE CROSBY PHOTO BY ISAI RAMOS

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rust me, if you ever want to stop a normal conversation dead in its tracks, mention mental illness. Frankly, considering how prevalent they are, it is absurd that psychological disorders are still such verboten topics. Significant mental illness episodes affect about one in five adults each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When it comes to illness serious enough to hamstring major life pursuits, we’re talking one in 25 adults. If these were flu statistics, we’d be in the middle of a pandemic making headlines in and on every news outlet. Activist organizations would be demanding a vaccine, an explanation and a projected death toll. But despite this overwhelming presence, the concept of mental illness continues to be trivialized and stigmatized. For example, in the same survey, only 57 percent of Americans adults believed that people are empathetic to persons with mental illness. More problematic, only 25 percent of adults with mental health symptoms believed that people were understanding and sympathetic to persons with mental illness. In human terms, simply admitting a need for psychological help continues to in-

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vite withering condemnation of “weakness” bringing additional shame and humiliation to real suffering often caused by chemical imbalances in the brain or traumatically painful experiences. Thankfully, huge strides are being made in both the societal acceptance of and treatment of mental health disorders and a greater number of intelligent and caring folk are dedicating their lives to alleviate the suffering. Enter Dr. Kay Vogt, clinical psychologist, who recently relocated to Rancho Mirage. An intelligent looking and sounding woman who dresses chicly and communicates with flair and confidence, Dr. Kay has spent a circuitous lifetime wending her way to this moment in time. Born in Stoneham, Maine, to Seventh Day Adventist parents, she attended two grade schools and five high schools as a teenager. “My mother and father wanted me to have a complete Adventist upbringing, including schooling,” she says. “That meant travel.” Did it ever. California, Wisconsin, and Illinois were all on her dance card during one three-year period. And these institutions were strict; she was actually asked to leave one boarding

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academy when her supervisors discovered she was hoarding “contraband”—coffee, tea and a toaster. As you may imagine, every time Dr. Kay relocated, she had to start her life from scratch with regard to friendships and a support system—an excruciating experience for anyone of any age but potentially devastating for a young woman. But instead of taking a blow to her self-confidence, Dr. Kay discovered a well-spring of resilience and a penchant for embracing change that still serve her well. She is also convinced it was this unusual nomadic activity early in life that carved out her tireless and lifelong search for “authentic community,” a grounding precept of her approach to therapy as well as her life. In a final rejection of her parents’ religion, Dr. Kay ran away to San Francisco for four months. After returning to Chicago, she finally graduated from the Central YMCA. True to form, Dr. Kay attended college in fits and starts over a period of years. “My first attempt at college occurred during anti-war restlessness,” she says, “and the job market was weak. I had been working as a night sec-

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INNOVATORS

PHOTO BY MATHIAS REED

<<< CONTINUED FROM PAGE 18 retary. So I dropped out, bought a van and explored Mexico.” When a fellow traveler crashed her transportation into a river, she returned to Chicago. Starting as a phone operator, she worked her way up to installer—the first female to hold that position in her state. When her male colleagues expressed displeasure at her success, she brushed them aside by becoming a foreman at age 24. She spent 13 years with AT&T and they rewarded her acumen and loyalty by paying for business-related night school courses. She also married financier Jon Vogt around this time and followed him to Dallas, Texas, after graduating (at last!) from Benedictine University. “Fortunately, I was able to transfer my position with a now divested phone company,” she notes. This was also when beloved daughter Dana was born. When Dr. Kay told me she earned her Doctorate in Psychology from Argosy University, I thought I’d missed something. “No Masters?” I asked. Dr. Kay laughed and shook her head. “I decided I didn’t need the Master’s degree. My first class was a total disaster. I understood absolutely nothing.” But instead of folding her tent in defeat, she cobbled together a study system and mastered the curriculum with the highest marks. She started her first practice in 1996 with emphasis on treating depression, anxiety and relationship issues. “That was when I began asking myself more intensely how to create peace of mind—where is the operating manual for the human mind?” Through trial and error, Dr. Kay decided that talk therapy was only good at establishing rapport and therefore needed to be augmented to be effective. Her forays into additional and mutually helpful methods in-

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cluded a study of Cognitive Behavioral therapy (theory: an interior dialogue composed of distorted thinking patterns causes destructive behavior, suffering and “negative” emotions) and concluded that it was particularly valuable for identifying and gauging a patient’s willingness and readiness to make peace with instead of holding on to the past. The need for connection borne of her vagabond youth translated into a fierce belief in creating a psychological sense of community and belonging. Her husband’s untimely death contributed to this longing. She still managed to provide counseling although it exhausted her. “Being present for someone else often brings solace,” she explains. When she’d healed enough, she threw herself into a corporate practice partnership with AT&T as well as an additional relationship with the University of Illinois. Her work included family practice on the one hand and assisting with the merging and integration of departments via facilitation on the other. “When things get organized and settle down, I tend to wonder what might be around the corner,” Dr. Kay admits. She’s always wanted to live in California and moved to San Diego a few years ago. Continuing her family business consultation across the United States still allowed her time to build a new private practice. She also became immersed in the work of Byron Katie, which Dr. Kay described as “cognitive therapy on steroids—deep and transformative.” (Note: “The Work” as it is known, consists of self-inquiry using the following questions: “Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true? How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?” And … “Who would you be without the thought?”) “I consider it vital to continue adding tools to my toolbox,” Dr. Kay says.

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As a way of enhancing her practice, this intuitive and empathetic woman has mastered an array of therapeutic approaches, many of them considered cutting edge. For example, she uses EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), consisting of either pulsing lights or tactile paddles that stimulate both sides of the brain alternately. With the client kept in the present, trauma can emerge and be reprocessed without the pain associated with simply revisiting an agonizing memory. Most recently, our brand new desert neighbor is delving into Scott Kiloby’s psycho-spiritual “living inquiries.” (Note: Kiloby materials describe this method as a shift in focus that allows people to look at their lives in a different way so as discover the Real Self. This in turn releases creative potential and promotes more harmonious relationships. There is also an emphasis on mindfulness, its value and how to maintain it.) Dr. Kay also offers live online treatment and agrees with the importance of medically assisted treatment. Not quite settled into her new home in Indian Wells, Dr. Kay seemed eager to share her enthusiasm about what the Coachella Valley offers. “I find I am drawn to the desert landscape, “ she says. “I feel more comfortable being surrounded by like-minded people and am attracted to the surprisingly vibrant meta-physical aspect of this area. The music scene is great and the multi-cultural population keeps it interesting. What’s not to like?” If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma issues or other mental health problems, help is available. Consider contacting a reliable and highly trained professional like Dr. Kay Vogt. You’ll never regret it. Learn more at realtalkcompany.com.


INNOVATORS

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hances are, if you haven’t been personally affected by depression, you know someone who has. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, affecting millions of people every year. In fact, an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7 percent) experiences at least one major depressive episode in any given year. As common as it is, struggling with depression can feel isolating, overwhelming and affect all areas of a person’s life. While there are many available approaches to helping treat depression - including talk therapy, medication, support from peers and lifestyle changes - because of the nature of the condition, patients often find it challenging to follow through on their treatment. In today’s digital world, advances in technology are opening up new approaches to helping patients manage their health, including their mental health. Interestingly, a 2014 survey found that 70 percent of patients being treated for a mental health disorder say they want to use a mobile application to monitor their mental health on a daily basis. Using a smart phone to track things like mood and behavior, even medication, in real-time is convenient and can make it easier for patients to identify long-term patterns in partnership with their care team. The Moodivator app (currently available for free download to iPhones from the Apple

App Store) is an example of one mobile app that helps to address this need for people living with depression. Developed by Pfizer, the app is designed to motivate people living with depression and help complement the therapy they receive by allowing patients to track their mood, set goals and establish routines that can help support them in their daily life. “Goal setting in particular is important for people with depression, as even small tasks can feel overwhelmingly difficult. The Moodivator app ties into cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that I use frequently with my patients, since it encourages users to set, track and achieve personal goals in a simple and encouraging way across categories like work, home and family or social activities,” says Susan Kornstein, MD, professor of psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, who consulted on the content and design of the app. “Goals are broken down into clear action steps, which are like smaller goals that can help patients eventually achieve their bigger ones. They can be adjusted over time and turned into helpful habits as part of an ongoing routine.” Kornstein adds, “Mood tracking, another component of the app, is an important tool for improving patients’ emotional self-awareness. The ease and convenience of tracking

mood through a mobile app like Moodivator can lead to patients tracking their moods more often and more accurately.” Beyond goal and mood tracking, patients also receive encouraging and inspirational messages in the app to help motivate them along the way as they manage their depression. The benefits of using the Moodivator app may extend beyond the person living with depression, and actually help their care team as well. “Importantly, the app includes the opportunity for patients to export and share their progress with their care team if they choose, showcasing their goal progress and mood patterns through easy-to-read charts,” continues Kornstein. “This can help doctors inform care decisions, and ultimately impact the patient’s overall treatment plan.” The Moodivator app is not a treatment for depression. All patients should work with their doctor to determine which course of treatment is right for them, and even when patients start to feel better, they should continue their therapy and work closely with their doctor until they reach an agreement to conclude the treatment plan. This app includes information about a prescription treatment option for depression. Courtesy BPT

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HEALTH TIPS

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he realities of unintentional child shootings are heart-wrenching. But the more we educate ourselves and neighbors, the more likely we are to prevent these tragedies. Test your Gun Sense IQ—all for a good cause—and then ask your friends to take the quiz, too. This quiz is also avaialble online at BeSmartForKids.org. QUESTION 1 TRUE OR FALSE: More American children live in homes with guns that are unlocked and loaded than kids who play high school football each year. TRUE FALSE QUESTION 2 How old are the children most at risk of unintentionally shooting themselves? 2-4 6-8 9-11 12-14 QUESTION 3 Where is a child most likely to be involved in a fatal unintentional shooting? At school On a hunting trip At home At a friend or relative’s home QUESTION 4 TRUE OR FALSE: More states require chil-

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dren to ride in safety seats in cars than require parents to secure guns at home. TRUE FALSE QUESTION 5 What’s the most effective way to keep kids safe from guns in the home? Warn kids not to go near guns Keep kids from knowing there is a gun in the house Mandate use of new gun technology like “smart guns” Store unloaded guns in locked location, with ammunition locked up separately

QUIZ ANSWERS ANSWER 1: TRUE. A national survey found that 1.7 million kids in the U.S. live in homes with guns that are loaded and unlocked while 1.1 million American teens play high school football, according to a recent study by the National Federation of State High School Associations. ANSWER 2: CHILDREN AGES 2-4. Yes, that’s the sad truth. Toddlers age 2-4 are at the greatest risk of dying from a self-inflicted, unintentional gunshot. Kids age 12-14 are at the greatest overall risk of dying from an unintentional gunshot by another person. When it comes down to it, no parent should have to bury a child of any age. Ever.

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ANSWER 3: AT HOME. According to an analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety, more than 60 percent of the children 14 and under killed in unintentional shootings are killed in their own homes. Children will always find the hiding places for guns in homes and vehicles. Properly locking a firearm and storing it unloaded and separately from ammunition will help prevent dangerous situations. ANSWER 4: TRUE. Twenty-two states have no laws whatsoever requiring responsible storage whereas all 50 and Washington, D.C. mandate the use of child safety seats in vehicles. Another fourteen states make it a crime for an adult to knowingly or recklessly give a gun to a child. ANSWER 5: STORE UNLOADED GUNS IN LOCKED LOCATION, WITH AMMUNITION LOCKED UP SEPARATELY. While there are several steps we can take to make kids safer in the home, the most effective thing is for gun owners to lock their unloaded guns and store them separately from ammunition. And that’s an official recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Curious kids can often find and use guns stored at home.


HEALTH NEWS

BALANCE MATTERS THE SURPRISING SUCCESS OF MIZELL SENIOR CENTER’S ‘FALLS PREVENTION COURSE’

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hen Mizell Senior Center in Palm Springs announced earlier this year that its award-winning “A Matter of Balance” (AMOB) falls prevention course was shy of 300 graduates, people took notice. That’s because it nearly double the amount that was originally forecasted.  Mizell commissioned a survey to assess the impact and success of the program, which launched last year. In it, it was revealed that graduates who took the course at Mizell and seven other host sites across the Coachella Valley, learned to change their mindset about falling, changed their environment to reduce the risk of falling, and participated in a regular exercise program as

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a way of increasing strength and balance as a preventative measure. Good news all around, considering falls by seniors can be extremely traumatic and often lead to serious injuries. “A Matter of Balance” has taught participants how to avoid falls and reduce the likelihood of head trauma if they do fall. AMOB is funded by the Desert Healthcare District and The Auen Foundation.  Mizell worked with Health Assessment and Research for Communities (HARC) to evaluate the effectiveness of the courses. They found that of the 266 graduates, 75 percent of participants were 75 years and older.  Isolation due to fear of falling is a major issue facing seniors, but after taking

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the “A Matter of Balance” course, participants were able to reduce their fear of falling, which significantly improved their social lives. Staying fit and exercising regularly is key to preventing falls, and the research showed that after taking AMOB, 65 percent of the class participants exercised three or more times per week. Many participants viewed the program as educational, fun, non-threatening, and they noted that the course provided good exercise and fostered socialization.   “After falling, seniors often become isolated at home, which reduces their sociability and quality of life,” says Suzanne Spencer, Director of the Falls Prevention Program at Mizell Senior Center. “The course helps par-


HEALTH NEWS

COURTESY MIZELL SENIOR CENTER

ticipants learn to see falling as controllable and offer practical strategies on how to manage falls and increase activity levels.  Our goal with this course is to help modify and minimize the physical and psychological ramifications of falling, which helps our participants maintain a healthy level of activity as they age.” Mizell Senior Center has taken the lead in offering “A Matter of Balance” with other host sites, including Cathedral Center, Desert Oasis Healthcare, Desert Regional Medical Center, Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower Medical Center, Eisenhower Renker Wellness Center, Joslyn Center, and The Springs Country Club. There will be other host sites implementing the course in 2016-2017 including Desert Cove Assisted Living, Mercy Housing, Stonewall Gardens Assisted Living, The Center and The Colony of Rancho Mirage.  “Our goal of sharing this award-winning falls prevention course with other organizations, is to significantly prevent and reduce falls and the fear of falling among the large

population of older adults in the greater Palm Springs area,” notes Jack Newby, Mizell Senior Center’s Director of Development. To understand the true effectiveness of “A Matter of Balance,” it’s best to dive deeper into what it actual is and entails. For starters, it is an award winning, nationally recognized program that was developed by the Roybal Center at Boston University, which assists attendees reduce the fear of falling and increase the activity levels of older adults. The course, which consists of eight two-hour sessions led by certified coaches, teaches participants about falls management, falls control, exercise, and social limitations with regard to concerns about falling.    As an extension of the “A Matter of Balance’ program, Mizell also offers a strength and balance training class called “Improve My Balance,” taught at 10 a.m. every Wednesday and Friday at the center. This endurance exercise class continues the practical strategies from “A Matter of Balance” to help participants prevent falls

and increase activity levels. According to a recent study by HARC, approximately 23,575 local seniors fell once or more in a three-month period. In California, 25 percent of older adults who fall and break a hip die within one year, and falls among older adults are the most common cause of trauma injuries and hospital admissions nationwide. No doubt this adds another milestone to the work Mizell Senior Center has been doing. Having served Palm Springs and its surrounding communities for 40 years, the community focal point on healthy and active aging has generated positive ripple effects. It remains a notable portal where active adults of all ages come together for service and activity, which enhances dignity, supports independence, and encourages involvement in and with the community. For information please call 760-323-5689 or visit mizell.org.

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HEALTH NEWS

HEY, GUYS!

TAKE NOTE: THREE SIMPLE WAYS MEN CAN IMPROVE THEIR HEALTH

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en don’t have the best track record when it comes to taking care of themselves. It’s safe to say we all know someone who is just plain stubborn about going to the doctor. Even if they exhibit clear symptoms that should be checked out, say wheezing, chronic fatigue or worse, it can be a challenge to get them to seek medical help. Of course, not all men are like this. In fact, as a whole, men have been getting better about taking care of themselves, according to new data gathered by the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Men have begun paying more attention to their health and acting to maintain good

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health,” says Wanda Filer, MD, MBA, president of the AAFP and a practicing family physician. “They are getting physical exams, increasing their exercise activity, and getting their health care from their regular doctor.” With this encouraging news, it’s important to remember that men’s health is still a big concern. By keeping the following three points in mind, you can help yourself, or a loved one, lead a longer and healthier life. Health care is preventive, too. It’s a common misconception that you go to the doctor only when you’re sick or not feeling well. So, what’s the most common barrier that prevents men from seeing a doctor?

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Answer: themselves. According to a 2016 survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the AAFP, 31 percent of men wait until they feel extremely sick before seeing a doctor, and 21 percent say they have no reason to go to a doctor when feeling healthy. As Filer says, “Not feeling sick is not necessarily the same as being healthy.” Early detection and preventive care are two of the most important ways to maintain health and prevent potential health concerns from becoming major problems. Step away from the screen. Though more men exercise in 2016 than they did in the AAFP’s 2007 survey (80 percent vs 74 percent), many men still spend a consid-


HEALTH NEWS

erable amount of time looking at screens. In the 2016 online survey of 916 men across the country, the AAFP found that men spend, on average, about 20 hours each week working at a computer and 19 hours in front of a television. While it’s nearly impossible to avoid

screens in this day and age, men should be motivated to take on more physical and active hobbies that can reduce stress and improve their physical health. Develop a relationship with a family physician. An important step men can take to ensure

they receive regular checkups and preventive care is to regularly visit a family physician. Nearly eight in 10 men (79 percent) have a regular doctor or health care professional they see when they are sick or want medical advice, however, a family physician not only treats the whole person, but the whole family. This is because an individual’s health should be a concern for the entire family. The value of a family physician is that they perform routine checkups, immunizations and screenings. They can also treat chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis and depression. “If more men develop ongoing relationships with their family physician, their perception of good health is more likely to become reality,” says Filer. To learn more about men’s health, visit familydoctor.org. To learn more about the 2007 and 2016 surveys, visit aafp.org/menshealth. Courtesy BPT.

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HEALTH NEWS

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very day, in shelters all across the country, senior animals are passed over by prospective pet owners. Why? Some people are looking for the energy of a new puppy or feel older dogs offer families too little time. But the truth is, providing a new home for an older animal may bring you a level of companionship you never imagined. “Any shelter worker will tell you, puppies and kittens get adopted first and older shelter pets have a higher likelihood of being euthanized,” says Andrea Arden, a dog trainer who’s been featured on Animal Planet and “The Today Show,” and spokeswoman for Tractor Supply Company’s Pet Appreciation Week. “But if you’re considering adoption, there are great reasons to choose a more mature pet.” Older animals can be just as cute and lovable as their younger counterparts. In fact, they often come with many wonderful qual-

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ities that take years to develop in younger animals. Here are a few benefits to consider as you’re looking for a forever friend:

Saving a Life It’s no secret that senior pets are at a disadvantage in shelters. Not only do they have a lower likelihood of adoption, they are also more prone to depression and confusion as a result of their new environment. Consider how they got there; more often than not, a senior animal ends up in a shelter due to owner surrender. It could be an older owner’s declining health, an unforeseen move or a sudden change in financial situation. Still, these are wonderful, loving animals that simply had no place to go. By choosing to adopt a senior pet, you’re providing a second chance at life and, with that, can come a lot of fulfillment.

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Say ‘So Long’ to Training Lucky for you, the majority of senior animals have already learned the fundamentals —everything from toilet training to various commands to leash walking. Not having to spend weeks and weeks on training can be a valuable perk of adopting a senior pet.

Age is But a Number However, should you want to teach an older dog a new trick, you’re in luck. Animals can be trained at any age; in fact, more mature animals may have a longer attention span, so you may actually find it easier to teach your senior pet something new.

What You See is What You Get Adopting an older pet means its size and temperament are established, increasing your chance of finding the perfect com-


HEALTH NEWS

panion for your household. Have a cat? No problem, many senior dogs have already lived in a home with felines.

Lots of Love, Less Destruction Senior pets are typically well past the searchand-destroy phase, minimizing the possibility of unwanted accidents and bad behavior.

Something for Everyone The mellow disposition of a senior animal makes them a great companion for people of all ages. Their lower energy level is often a perfect fit for the elderly, while their calm presence can be great for families with children.

Wonderful Years Ahead Arden urges pet parents not to let the shorter lifespan of an older pet keep you from adopting one. Depending on the breed, a

dog of seven or eight years may have at least as many good years left ahead, and most breeds of domestic cats can easily live to be 15 or older. It’s also important to note that while veterinary attention and medication are needed for animals of all ages, old age doesn’t necessarily mean higher costs. “You wouldn’t avoid making a human friendship just because the new person in your life is mature,” Arden says. “When you adopt an older animal, you can still have plenty of time to enjoy their companionship. Because they’re older, you’ll be inspired to make every moment with them as loving and rewarding as possible.”

Preparing for Senior Pets Good nutrition and regular veterinary checkups are important for all pets, especially seniors. Look for a specialized food, such as 4health Premium Pet Food, to ensure your pet is receiving the vitamins and minerals need-

ed to stay healthy. You can also find walk-in PetVet Clinics at Tractor Supply stores where you can save as much as 70 percent off the cost of yearly vaccinations, microchipping and other preventative treatment options.

Supporting the Cause Finding a senior pet that’s right for your family is easier than you might think. During the week of Sept. 14-18, many of Tractor Supply’s 1,500 stores across the country will host Pet Appreciation Week where they will feature on-site pet adoption events with community shelters and rescues, some offering senior pets. The main event on Saturday, Sept. 17, will also feature prizes, giveaways and demonstrations on pet nutrition. Check with your local Tractor Supply store to get more details on the Pet Appreciation Week events happening near you. Courtesy BPT

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THE Q&A

HOT STUFF In a Bikram Yoga class, the entire body benefits from a variety of yoga poses practiced in a heated room for 90 minutes. PHOTOS COURTESY BIKRAM YOGA PALM DESERT

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t’s 105 degrees—inside. Every day. Sometimes for many hours of the day. This is the sizzling scene in the Palm Desert / El Paseo Bikram Yoga studio run by Anne Marie Palma. True, one could argue that most locals love to “escape” the desert heat, but in here, as the perspiration flows, they use it to their advantage. It’s the Bikram way, after all—26 poses and two breathing exercises in a heated setting all designed to improve flexibility, not to mention one’s overall health. The renowned yoga practice, which was created by Bikram Choudhury and became more popular during the 1970s, has spawned a number of hot yoga cousins—from Hot Vinyasa Flow to heated Pilates classes. Still, the roots of the practice, and the series of poses, suggest that Choudhury—a fiery personality to say the least— knew what he was doing when he created this particular sequence of poses so many decades ago. Here, Palma reveals her love for the practice, and its numerous benefits. Healthy Life Choices: How long have you been practicing and how long have you been teaching? Anne Marie Palma: I started Bikram Yoga in February 2004—more than 12 years ago. Bikram was my first yoga. I tried Vinyasa, Restorative and Yin after that, and felt Bikram resonated the most for the healing properties.  I like Yin a lot as well. I have been teaching five years and I purchased the studio in Palm Desert four years ago.

Where are you from originally? I was born and raised in Chicago/Chicago suburbs. I moved directly from there to the desert in 2003. I notice you also have monthly gong baths … We do. They are very well received.  People really look toward meditation and finding inner peace these days, and it’s been a great compliment to the healing properties of the Bikram Method. SP, what led you to a career in yoga? It wasn’t planned. My career is dental hygiene. I became a registered dental hygienist after graduating from Loyola University School of Dentistry, Chicago, in 1984.  After years of bending over patients on a repetitive side, I damaged some of my spinal discs. I was told I needed surgery but could get by for a while with Cortisone injections. Coming from the healthcare profession, these invasive procedures scared me. I wanted to find a natural, holistic way to heal myself.   After a full year of being in pain and thinking my dental hygiene career was over, I found Bikram Yoga.  It saved me and gave me my life back. Not only did it reverse my spinal injuries but also I reaped other health benefits that I had put on back burner. I was so impressed with the healing properties of this

form of yoga that I wanted to teach it to others to spread the word. Additionally, I wanted to help out my home studio that I felt tremendous gratitude towards. I initially taught for free around my full-time dental hygiene schedule to help out the previous owners after a major setback they endured. When it became apparent that they could no longer continue,  they asked me if I was interested in taking on the existing lease and assuming ownership.  It wasn’t and easy decision from a financial perspective but a natural one. I realized my passion was and is the yoga. What do you love most about yoga? The people and the community. It’s an amazing sharing of energy and camaraderie. And what do enjoy most about teaching? Seeing the progress that our students make and celebrating their accomplishments—in and out of the hot room. What’s the biggest misconception people have about Bikram Yoga? The heat. It scares people so they don’t even want to give it a chance. They need to experience it to embrace it, but they let their minds dictate otherwise.     

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THE Q&A

<<< CONTINUED FROM PAGE 31 But there are a great deal of benefits, as you, yourself, experienced. Can you talk a bit about those? Spine health. The backward bends balance us out because we never do that in everyday life—only forward bending. And … proper function for all our organs and glands. The order of the postures and the specific postures chosen literally are squeezed, stimulated—wrung out so to speak—for deep detox and cellular renewal. Psychological/ mind control. Mastering several of the poses takes tremendous focus and concentration and clears one’s mind of the “petty.” And cardio and Balance. The balancing series not only helps with physical balance, it affords a tremendous cardiovascular conditioning. How does heat assist us when we do yoga, and even afterward?

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The heat strengthens the cardiovascular system. So it helps the muscles become more pliable so that they can stretch better. It also accelerates all the therapeutic benefits. During class, the heat induces a tremendous sweating for deep internal detox. Afterward, one feels a euphoria like no other. The best way to describe it is as if every cell is firing—it makes you feel alive and cleansed, inside and out. Why do you sense yoga has become more popular over the last decade, especially here in America? Stress. People need to slow down and find a balance in their lives. Yoga helps people slow down a little and to put things in proper perspective, and gain confidence. So how has yoga transformed your own life? Oh my—that’s a whole article in itself. In a nutshell: I totally reinvented myself through yoga.  I was 50 when I became a yoga teach-

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er and 51 when I became the Bikram Yoga Palm Desert/EL Paseo studio owner. My whole lifestyle changed and there was a shift in who and what is really important in life. If you weren’t teaching yoga what do you think you would be doing? If I weren’t teaching yoga, but practicing it, I would probably still be doing dental hygiene full-time.  I’m still a part-time hygienist and enjoying it more than ever.  I tell my dental patients to do yoga and I tell my yoga students to floss daily. If I never discovered it to practice, I would probably be on disability and living off the government instead of being a productive member of society. Bikram Yoga Palm Desert/El Paseo is located at 73890 El Paseo St R6-7, Palm Desert. To learn more about Bikram Yoga, its many benefits, and to look at the class schedule, visit bikramyogapalmdesert.com.


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