Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ah baby, it's cold outside!

It's getting cold out there and as the weather changes I can feel the transition happening in my body as well. I'm going a bit slower, drinking hot liquids and sleeping more. The end of November-particularly in areas with a pronounced four seasons - is an excellent time to make a seasonal shift in eating, lifestyle and yoga. Here are some suggestions and ideas to make the transitions a little smoother and more comfortable.

Shift from cold, raw foods such as salads and smoothies to foods that warm the body; soups, stews and roasted root vegetables. Incorporate pungent foods and herbs in your diet. herbs includes ginger, garlic, black pepper, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, horseradish, and rosemary. Pungent foods include turnips, broccoli, daikon, celery, kohlrabi, mustard greens, kale, and green cabbage. I also like Dave Winston's ginseng soup when your under the weather

Pungent foods produce the following benefits necessary for good health in the winter:
  • Increases warmth and stimulates the body
  • Stimulate circulation of blood and energy
  • Keep the lungs clear and open
  • Dries phlegm mucous, and congestion
  • Balances fluids
  • Improve sluggish liver function
  • Relieves some types of arthritis
Practice pranayama breathing once a day. I suggest three part durga breath, kapalabhati, and Surya Bhedana (Right Nostril Breathing) " Seventy percent of the body’s wastes are processed through the breath. Most people get one-quarter to one-fifth of the amount of oxygen the lungs were designed to hold. That’s a major deficit for cells that are trying desperately to process food, release toxins and provide energy for all your body’s needs. Without enough oxygen your cells are suffocating, can’t process food properly, are filled with sludge and toxins, and you run out of energy."

  • Keep your muscles warm, wear extra layers.
  • Start you practice with Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations). This will help you keep warm, flexible and increase your energy as well as keep your body stretched and nimble.
  • Stretch that spine with with both feet apart, hands above your head
  • Practice standing Yoga poses such as Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Utthita Trikonasana (Reversed Triangle Pose)
  • sitting poses such as Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
  • inverted postures like Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall, Inverted Pose), prone poses such as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Chakrasana (Wheel Pose), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) and Shalabhasana (Locust Pose).

Conserve your energy to preserve good health. Slow down and get more rest. The body renews and restores when it's at rest and living creatures need more sleep during transitions, so extra time napping , going to bed earlier or sleeping later will help increase your bodies immune system, creating a stronger system to fight cold and flu season. So, curl up with a good book, sit by the fire sipping something hot and don't forget to dress warmly.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Old endings and new beginnings

One of the areas in yoga I really love is chanting mantras and singing. My yoga teacher trainings emphasized this aspect and we always had a lot of chanting in all our classes. Unfortunately this has not carried over to the extent I would like in my own teachings or classes I have taken since teacher training. I'm a little shy about leading a mantra and the main studio where I had practiced would only om in the beginning of class and namaste at the end. There was never any other chanting or separate breath exercises in the class itself. The studio I am now practicing in has chanting, mantras, prayers, music, pranayama and philosophy. I love it, it's perfect!

I truly feel, I as well as every other living creatures great and small, are on a personal journey of evolution. We need different things at different times and if we are presented with everything all at once we become overwhelmed and reject everything. The studio I practiced for many years was great for me at the time. I feel it was there to introduce one area of yoga which turned out to be a great influence and greatly assisted my own evolution as a yoga teacher. This studio, which could fall into focusing on the physical only, get a little too body beautiful and a bit too youthful at times had a quirky little restorative class taught by a teacher, that without knowing gave me a great big cosmic push on my path. Once I had migrated restorative into my own teachings and that teacher left to do other things, I found my interest in taking class at that particular studio diminish completely. I think it was a great journey and in the end I just wasn't supposed to be there anymore.

To my former studio I have feelings of love and gratitude. Thank you for everything, I really enjoyed my time, I got so much out of so many wonderful teachers. I learned a tremendous amount and I am so very grateful. So...... thank you for everything, good bye, and take care of yourself.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I'd like to be under the sea, in an octopus's garden in the shade.

Jason deCaires Taylor has created a stunning collection of art. His work is a unique and brilliant expression of art and the environment. Taylor carves cement stone figures, submerges them into the sea where he then arranges the figures in different scenes of surreal and everyday life. Eventually the pieces themselves become an artificial reef. His underwater art is not only contributing to the aesthetic quality of life but incredibly helpful from an ecological point of view.
The following is a description taken from his site
"Oceans teem with microscopic organisms that are constantly drifting down towards the sea bed, attaching to and colonising on the way any hard secure surface, such as rock outcrops, and thereby creating the basis of a natural reef. Coral reefs attract an array of marine life (such as colourful fish, turtles, sea urchins, sponges, and sharks) and also provide enclosed spaces for sea creatures to breed or take refuge. "
"Only about 10 – 15% of the sea bed has a solid enough substratum to allow reefs to form naturally. In order to increase the number of reefs in these areas artificial reefs have recently been created from materials that are durable, secure and environmentally sensitive. These reefs appear to have been successful in that they have attracted coral growth which, in turn, can support an entire marine ecosystem. "
"One of the greatest benefits of artificial reefs is that they have lifted the pressure off natural reefs which, over the past few decades, have been over-fished and over-visited. By diverting attention to artificial reefs, natural reefs have now been given a greater chance to repair and to regenerate."
To be further amazed by his incredible work click here

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bringing it on home
Now that were getting moved in and settled I feel the need to submerge into my practice. I have been eyeing a few studios which I am genuinely interested in trying out, but each time I schedule in a little time for a visit my heart just kind of sinks. I'm just not motivated to seek out something new right now and I defiantly have no intention of going back to the old. At this time I would just rather be practicing on my own. A serious prerequisites when we were looking at homes was a place where we could build a designated space just for a practice. Not a room which is also a bedroom or an office or storage area or a partial place where you could roll out a mat, but a complete space which is only for practice. This house being perfect in just the right ways has such a space. At the moment we have all our art lined up against the walls and its a but crowded and chaotic, but it will either be hung or stored away by the end of the weekend leaving the space free and clear for its intended use It's time to rediscover my home practice and let things roll out in a solitary manner for a while. Restorative work is calling me these days, so its time to get out the blocks, straps and blankets and just begin.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Until then, Namaste

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Moving Along

Just a quick drop in. I am feeling much, much better I was completely down for the count. Between work, classes, moving and getting sick there hasn't been any time to write in my little blog. I'm hoping I can regain some consistency now that things are settling in. I'm fairly unpacked, work and classes just keep trucking along as usual and I've regained health, which is fabulous! I love my new house and I'm looking forward to an entirely new exploration in my yoga practice. It's a new life and I embrace this change with happiness and clarity knowing I'm moving in the right direction. I have taken a little hiatus from my yoga practice which was a very good idea. I needed some time to gather my thoughts and heal. It's been a a few months now and I'm ready to return, but on entirely different ground. I have a lot to say about it, but another time. In the meantime I wish everyone peace, rest and deep meditations........

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Soul and Body

It the midst of boxes and chaos and moving I got really sick. I have not been this sick in years. Mostly what I want to do is sleep, have some hot herbal tea ,and chicken broth. Today is a landmark day as I feel a little better which means being up for a bout 45 minutes before I am totally blown out with exhaustion. Sorry, I'm not very interesting these days and not too much fun. Just wanted to check in and say I'm still here just a bit under the weather at the moment.

This recipe was taken from the Chef Maven November 30, 2008
Chicken Soup
The cooking process is rather simple, you will be adding the ingredients along with the chicken and water and allowing it all to boil then simmer for at least 90 minutes until the chicken is done. Then removing the chicken allowing it to cool so that you can remove the meat from the bones. Then cooking your noodles separately if you want to add them to your soup, then adding the last of the reserved veggies to your soup and returning the now-deboned chicken along with the noodles to the soup and serving it up to you and your family.

One large Soup Pot
chicken pieces – I used three leg quarters (legs and thighs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 stalks celery – diced (reserve one stalk)
2 jalapenos – diced (or more)
2 medium sized onions – diced
3 large carrots – diced (reserve one carrot)
2+ teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon+ red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons of FRESH rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
4-6 whole ‘cloves’ of allspice
2 large bay leaves – fresh or dried
6-8 cups of water
2 tablespoons of ‘better than bouillon’ chicken flavored paste (optional)
4 stalks of scallions – diced and added at the end.
2 cups dried noodles (optional & cooked separately near the end)
chopped fresh parsley or cilantro added at end or to the bowls when serving.

Gather your ingredients and place your large stock pot on your stove or even use your slow cooker.
Add olive oil to your stock pot (if you are using your slow cooker omit this step and simply add your ingredients to the slow cooker starting with the vegetables first, then add the chicken, then the water and turn it on)
Remember to reserve one celery stalk, one carrot and all the scallions – you will be adding those last to the soup pot once your chicken has cooked and you have removed the meat from the bones and replaced it back into the soup – this keeps them slightly crunchy and adds color)
Add diced onions, celery and carrots to the mix and turn the heat under pot.
Allow the vegetables to sweat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While vegetables are cooking, remove skin off chicken and separate legs from thighs.
Add chicken to pot, add all remaining ingredients: garlic, spices, salt and pepper, jalapenos, etc. (except for one carrot, one celery stalk, scallions)
Add water to pot enough to bring the water level to about one inch from the top.
Allow to come to a boil, then lower heat and allow the soup to simmer for at least 90 minutes.
Scoop out chicken. Let cool slightly so it is easier to remove meat from bones.
While noodles are cooking (see next step) and chicken is cooling, add the reserved diced carrot, celery and scallions to the soup.
When removing meat from the chicken bones, I like to keep the chicken in chunks.
Cook noodles separately and when done drain and rinse noodles before adding to soup.
Serve up in bowls to feed your cold and starve your fever!
Thank you Chef Mavan I will be using your recipe today,
to everyone else, namaste and good health.