APRIL

Hi dear friends, it is your host Sevina.
In this month issue we will explore the pursuit of happiness, and where it goes wrong…
So often we place our happiness in the hands of other people. We seek validation. We want to please others. We try to live up to the expectations of other people. There’s nothing wrong with taking into consideration the opinions and perspectives of others. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make others happy. But there’s a fine line between taking into consideration the opinions of another person and losing yourself in the opinions of another person.
An essential part of developing true happiness is developing a strong sense of who we are, what we stand for, and what feels true for us in each moment. From this foundation, we can listen to others with curiosity and then we make our choices. The choices we make, show us who we are!
Enjoy the articles below.
Namaste!

The Best Way to Get Unstuck

By: Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Sticky is a useful term for experiences that leave a deep impression, because they stick around and at the same time stick like glue. If you find yourself feeling the same emotion over and over again—for example, frustration, anger, anxiety, or depression—you are not living in the present. Instead, the past is coming back for an unwanted visit.

Here are three practical ways to get unstuck, each one suited to a specific issue:

1. Be Present

The present moment is creative, because it opens the way for new thoughts, feelings, and inspiration. Your mind naturally wants to be in the now unless it gets distracted. If you find yourself feeling distracted, stressed, or disengaged, the best thing to do is to center yourself.

The practice is quite simple. Find a place where you can be alone, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.

Now center your attention on the heart region in the center of your chest. Breath in deeply by filling your belly region so that it pushes outward. Now breath out, pause for a count of 2, and repeat. This style of controlled breathing is one of the most useful quick ways to become centered, relaxed, and back in the moment.

2. Release Negative Old Beliefs

People very commonly get stuck on beliefs that are discouraging, self-defeating, judgmental, and generally negative. For example, you might find yourself thinking:

Life is unfair.

The world is a threatening place.

To get along, you have to go along.

No one will look out for number one but me.

I’m not really lovable.

I’ve never been all that attractive.

These beliefs get stuck in our minds without knowing where they came from or why we believe them. The way to get unstuck is to do a little investigation. Take any negative belief, and you will see that it lodged in your mind because of the following general conditions:

We believe the first person who told us something.

We believe things that are repeated often.

We believe the people we trust.

We didn’t hear a contrary belief.

When you find yourself stuck on a negative self-belief, something that makes you feel bad about yourself, pose the following questions:

Who first told me this?

Was it repeated a lot?

Why did I trust the person who told me?

Is there reason to believe the opposite?

In other words, you turn around the experiences that made your belief sticky, and by turning them around, the belief becomes less and less sticky. If your mother told you that you aren’t pretty or your father said that you are lazy, why should you automatically trust them? It doesn’t matter how often you heard their opinion. Now that you are an adult, you can separate opinion from fact. Think of experiences that indicated how attractive you are in other people’s eyes or how diligently you applied yourself to a task.

3. Discharge Bad Memories

Perhaps the most common way of being stuck occurs in memory. Old wounds and traumas return, warning us not to repeat something bad that happened in the past. The stickiest part of a memory is its emotional charge, which some psychologists have termed our emotional debt from the past. We stubbornly hold on to old resentments, grievances, fears, and wounded feelings.

This gives us a clue to getting unstuck. Instead of trying to un-remember the time nobody came to your birthday party, focus on the feeling this memory brings up. Memories are hard or impossible to erase, but emotional debt can be discharged.

How to Discharge Sticky Emotions

The following techniques for discharging sticky emotions are easy and natural. Emotions by their very nature rise and fall, and most of the time a cooling-off period suffices to return you to a settled state. But sticky emotions don’t fade away on their own. They ask you to assist by discharging them through various practices.

Technique #1: If you feel an uncomfortable emotion that persists, center yourself and take slow, deep breaths until you feel the emotional charge start to lessen.

Technique #2: If you recognize an emotion that has been around a long time, notice its return, then say: “This is how it once was. I am not in the same place now. Go away.”

Technique #3: With a particularly stubborn emotion, sit quietly with eyes closed and let yourself feel the emotion—do this lightly, not sinking deeply. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, releasing the emotional energy from your body. It might help to see your breath as a white light carrying the toxic feeling out of you.

Technique #4: If you feel no specific emotion, but rather a general mood of being down, blue, or out of sorts, sit quietly with your attention placed in the region of your heart. Visualize a small white light there, and let it expand. Observe the white light as it expands to fill your whole chest. Now expand it up into your throat, then your head, and up out of the crown of your head.

Take a few minutes to carry this technique through until it feels complete. Now return to your heart and expand the white light again until it fills your chest. Now see it expand downward, filling your abdomen, extending down to your legs, and finally out through the soles of your feet into the earth.

These four techniques can be applied separately or one after the other. But it is important to be patient. Once you use a technique, it will take time for your whole emotional system to adapt to the discharge.

In short, everyone suffers from some kind of stuckness, but now you are in a position to be aware of what is happening and to take steps to get unstuck and live in the now, where reality is renewed and refreshed.

3 Kid-Friendly Meditations Your Children Will Love

By: Melissa Eisler

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, aunt, grandfather, babysitter or otherwise spend time with kids of any age, try out these three practices to introduce kids to meditation and mindfulness.

Meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness practices are more popular, and helpful, than ever. Studies have shown that teaching kids mindfulness practices can build students’ attentiveness, respect for fellow classmates, self control, and empathy, all while reducing stress, hyperactive behavior, ADHD symptoms, and depression.

Yet only 1.6 percent of U.S. children meditate, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Giving kids the tools to help them fend off negative thoughts and behaviors, build self-confidence, focus, and treat others and themselves with respect and appreciation is a gift they will have for the rest of their lives.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan instituted the Skills for Life program in Ohio schools to teach deep breathing, meditation, and other problem-solving skills to elementary-aged kids. What they found was that these practices helped kids balance their emotions, cut down on bullying, and increased awareness, and both students and teachers are excited about the program.

Another study done in the San Francisco Unified School District with more than 3,000 students found dramatic improvement in overall academic performance, including a spike in math test scores for students who practiced mindfulness meditation and “quiet time.” In one rough middle school, where gunfire, fighting, and suspension rates were the highest in San Francisco, when “quiet time” was integrated into curriculum, suspension rates dropped by 45 percent, attendance rose, and grades improved significantly.

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, aunt, grandfather, babysitter or otherwise spend time with kids of any age, try out these three practices to introduce kids to meditation and mindfulness.

1. The Balloon

This guided meditation brings a visual component to a very simple deep breathing exercise. You can do this standing or seated.

Relax your body and begin to take deep inhales and slow exhales through the nose.

Start to take a slow, deep breath to fill your belly up with air, as if you’re trying to blow up a big balloon. Expand your belly as much as you can.

Slowly let the air out of the balloon (through the nose) as you release the breath from the belly.

Encourage your kids to feel their entire body relax each time they exhale, each time air is slowly being released from the balloon. You can even make a “hissing” noise to encourage them to slow down the exhale even more, “Like letting air out of the balloon.”

Continue for several minutes.

If the child you’re teaching is younger, you can add a little more detail and fun to the exercise to keep them engaged. Young kids, especially under the age of 6, love the extra movement when they’re learning to bring awareness to their breath. Encourage them to stand up in a relaxed way and follow these steps:

Ask them to think of their favorite color and picture a giant balloon of that color in their mind.

Then have them take a slow, deep inhale through the nose, filling up their tummies with air as if trying to blow up a giant [their favorite color] balloon. As an option, you can also have them stretch their arms open and overhead to represent expansion and the big balloon.

When their balloon is totally full, have them hold their breath at the top, and then you can “pop the balloon” for them (gesture finger to belly) and they can fall down as they exhale.

This one will likely elicit giggles and awareness of their breath.

2. Follow the Leader

This meditation works best for kids who are at least 5 years old. Ask your child to picture their best friend or a sibling—someone they do everything with or someone they look up to. Then ask them which one (your child or their best friend) usually leads. Usually one friend is the one who decides things—the one who is more of the leader; the other one is the friend who usually follows the leader. Ask them which they are.

If they are the leader, you can tell them to picture themselves as the breath. If they are the follower, you can ask them to picture themselves as the mind. For this example, I’ll pretend that they’ve chosen their big brother as their best bud, and the big brother is the leader.

Say something like, “So you and your big brother do everything together. Let’s pretend that your breath and your mind are best friends, too. And that you are just like the mind—the follower, and your big brother is just like the breath—the leader.” Then follow the steps below to guide them through the meditation.

Sit down comfortably and close your eyes.

Bring all of your attention to your breath and slow it down, taking deep inhales and slow exhales.

Let’s have the mind follow the breath—no matter what. Picture yourself as your mind, the one that’s following your big brother, your breath. Try to focus your mind on the breath and follow as the breath inhales and exhales.

Count your breaths at the end of every exhale. Don’t let your mind count before the end of the exhale. The mind always wants to jump ahead, but don’t let it. Allow it to remain focused on being the follower.

Count to 10 slowly, always at the end of each exhale, continuing to let the mind follow the breath.

3. Guided Relaxation

This practice is great for kids (and adults) of all ages, whether they’re having trouble sleeping, stressed out, sick and in bed, or acting out. It’s based on the progressive muscle relaxation technique that Dr. Edmund Jacobson developed in the 1920’s. It’s used to help alleviate tension when people are in a situation that makes it difficult for them to relax. Guide your kids with these steps:

Sit down or lie down comfortably and close your eyes. You can use pillows or blankets to make yourself as comfortable as you can be.

Take a few deep, cleansing breaths as you begin to relax.

Bring all of your attention to your right foot, noticing how it feels. Squeeze the right foot, making a fist with your entire right foot and all five toes; tense and squeeze it tightly. Hold this tension for two deep breaths.

Then release all tension in the right foot suddenly. Relax it completely and notice the tension release. You may feel a tingling sensation in the foot.

Take a deep breath, and then move on…

Move your attention to your left foot. Same instructions as for the right foot.

Move slowly up and around the body, squeezing one body part at a time to create tension, immediately followed by the contrasting sensation of release and ease. Follow each part with a deep, cleansing breath. Here’s a sample progression you can follow:

Right foot, left foot

Right ankle and calf, left ankle and calf

Right knee, left knee

Right thigh, left thigh

All feet and legs

Hips

Butt

Belly

Entire lower body, from tummy down

Chest and heart

Right arm, left arm

Right hand, left hand

Shoulders

Neck

Face

Whole body at once (do this one twice)

When you’re finished guiding your child through the relaxation technique, make sure they spend at least a few minutes in quiet, encouraging them to keep their breathing slow and steady.

Ask Dr. Sheila: Is Ghee Really Beneficial?

By: Dr. Sheila Patel

What is Ghee?

Ghee, or clarified butter, is made by melting milk at low temperatures. On the Indian subcontinent, cow milk was typically used, however traditional forms of clarified butter in the Middle East and Africa included goat or sheep milk. The process is the same—as the milk is heated, the water evaporates, and slowly the liquid fats are separated out as the milk solids (proteins and sugars) condense and are then skimmed or strained out. You are then left with a clear liquid oil that solidifies at room temperature. Sometimes the butter is fermented prior to heating, which can change the properties of the ghee. Because the water is almost completely evaporated out of ghee, it is remarkably shelf-stable at room temperature.

The Benefits of Ghee

This is an important question, as there is controversy in the medical and nutritional world about ghee. As is usually the case, there is still more to learn about the scientific details of ghee, but when used in the right way, we can reap the benefits of any food, including ghee, while balancing potential harm.

In Ayurveda, ghee has many health benefits, when used in the correct amounts and with specific intentions in mind. However, when used in excess, especially for certain dosha types, it can create imbalances. Nutritional science validates many of the benefits of ghee, and also supports Ayurveda’s caution to use ghee in moderation, as too much ghee can also have negative health consequences as well, including increasing cholesterol.

The Ayurvedic Perspective

From an Ayurvedic perspective, being aware of the qualities, or properties, of foods can help us decide how much of, when, or if, to use a particular food in our diet. In addition, in Ayurveda ghee is used not only as food, but as a carrier for certain herbs known as ghritams, in addition to topically for therapeutic purposes in the eyes, ears, and nose. Using these principles, we will take a look at ghee.

Ghee carries the sweet taste and therefore is primarily composed of the qualities of Earth and Water, which are heavy, thick, oily, soft, and smooth. From an Ayurvedic perspective, therefore, when we ingest ghee, we can accumulate these qualities in our physiology. Using ghee topically, or when ingested, will lubricate, soften, and moisturize tissues. It is also said to support the reproductive tissues and immune system.

From a dosha perspective, due to its qualities, it can be balancing for Vata dosha when taken in moderation. Ghee can also be balancing for Pittas, due to the cooling effects and can be used in moderation a well. However, it should be used minimally in daily use for Kaphas, as it causes accumulation of oiliness and heaviness.

Another consideration is using ghee intentionally for short periods of time, for example, during detoxification. Because ghee has a high proportion of saturated fat, it can bind fat-soluble toxins and create more flow of bile which can aid during detox. However, once the detox period is over, intake needs to be modified for an individual’s needs.

The Nutritional Makeup of Ghee

From our modern biochemical knowledge, we know that ghee contains saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and cholesterol. These fats include omega-3’s and omega-9’s. These biochemicals are what give ghee many of its qualities. It also contains several fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K, as well as other antioxidants and anti-inflammatory fatty acids.

Under certain circumstances when produced, ghee may contain certain amounts of cholesterol oxidation compounds. These molecules, which are produced when animal products are heated, have been implicated in cardiovascular disease. However, there are also studies that document a lowering of serum cholesterol from moderate consumption of ghee, and a reduction in oxidative byproducts. Theories behind these findings include an increase in bile production in the liver, which can help eliminate cholesterol through binding in the intestines. Also, in animal studies, ghee has been shown to reduce the oxidation of cholesterol in the liver, which may balance oxidative compounds created in the production of ghee. Also, there are more oxidative compounds produced when ghee is made at high temperatures, so this needs to be taken into account when analyzing the constituents in ghee, or studies on ghee.

In addition, ghee is sometimes implicated in the increased incidence of heart disease reported in India in the last two decades. However, this may be due to the modern production of ‘ghee’ made from vegetable oils, instead of milk, as opposed to being due to ghee itself. This modified ghee production produces more trans-fatty acids, which are unhealthy and can contribute to heart disease. In fact, in times past, there was a very low incidence of heart disease in India despite the use of ghee in everyday cooking, so we know there is more to the story. In short, studies are quite variable as far as ghee and risk of vascular disease, and any risk is likely multifactorial. In addition, the type of ghee studied, as well as other factors related to heart disease such as stress and modern lifestyle, need to be taken into consideration.

Although there is also a concern about weight gain when using ghee, there are no studies to confirm this is the case when used in correct amounts. It is true that excess ghee can cause weight gain, particularly for Kaphas who are prone to accumulating heaviness. Some studies suggest that the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in ghee can actually help reduce excess weight and body fat. Remember that “a little can go a long way”, therefore this does not mean that ghee should be consumed in excess, as it is quite calorie-dense.

From a modern perspective, there also may be people who have a strong family history of, or carry certain genes (like APOE 4), that put them at higher risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes. For them, the benefits of ghee may not outweigh any potential risks, and ghee can be avoided or minimized significantly, such as only using it during cleansing but not daily.

So, What to Do?

In Ayurveda, anything we ingest, when done with awareness can be used as medicine, but when used incorrectly can “act as a poison”. This is true for ghee. To use ghee to support health, the typical recommended dosage of ghee is between 1-3 Tablespoons/day, depending on your dosha, family history, and genetics. Be sure to buy ghee that is made from organic dairy sources, and not ghee that is produced from vegetable oils, which can contain more trans-fatty acids.

What it comes down to is to use ghee in moderation, in accordance with your dosha balance, unless you have a specific health condition where the benefits don’t outweigh the risks. When limited to a few teaspoons a day, along with a nutritious plant-dominant diet, we can reap the benefits of this sacred food while minimizing the potential health risks.

MARCH

Happy March everyone, it’s your host Sevina! It is time for new beginnings. Spring always gives me hope for the new and for the better. Spring is beautiful with it’s sunny mornings and longer days. My spirits brightens and soul is gladdened.

The articles below will keep reminding us how to keep ourselves in good spirit. To love ourselves, to be better partners, better parents, and better community members.

Enjoy,

Namaste!

5 Tips to Cultivate Personal Power and Self-Confidence

By: Linda Dierks

When you step into your power, you cultivate self-esteem and personal worth. A new sense of freedom emerges, doubts fall away, and you quit being a marionette to other people’s expectations or vulnerable to external circumstances. This new confidence allows you to let go of the need to judge, criticize, or compare yourself to others. When you claim your power, you also claim your greatest potential as an expression of your source creator.

Embrace your power by following these five building block practices and rise to the top of your personal game and spiritual path.

1. Define Who You Are

When you know who you are, you lay a foundation on which to build. As you define your abilities and qualities, you connect the dots and the picture of who you truly are emerges. Once this image develops, you become genuine, authentic, and comfortable in your own skin. You can start by asking yourself:

  • When I let go of fitting in, what is it about me that rises to the top?
  • What gifts are distinctly mine? What rings sterling and true about my abilities and personal qualities?
  • Are there talents or tasks where others seek my help or advice?
  • What did I love to do as a kid that got “practicalized” out of me?
  • When that force of intuition and desire tugs my sleeve, where is it pointing me?
  • What qualities light me up?
  • Am I practical or a daydreamer?
  • Do I seek adventure or quiet solitude?
  • Is my life a bustle of activity or tuned to a laid-back pace?
  • Do I recharge my batteries in an exuberant crowd or curled up with a book?
  • Am I happiest when I stand out or when part of a larger whole?

Knowing who you are generates practices that best care for your needs and gives rise to a lifestyle that matches your authentic nature. You’ll feel more and more anchored. As the effervescence of your true self bubbles to the surface, you quit trying to be liked by everyone else, let go of being pulled in multiple directions, and are more resilient to life’s challenges. Dare to be special!

2. Embrace Your Gifts

Shine your light on the world. You are endowed with distinctive talents, skills, and interests that mark your magnificence and set you apart. Do your gifts launch or languish behind old voices? Are you saying to yourself:

  • “Don’t be too big for your britches.”
  • “Quit being a show-off.”
  • “Look at the smarty-pants.”
  • “Act like a lady/gentleman.”

Does the term, “fear of outshining” resonate with you? Do you downplay your skills so that you won’t stand out or threaten others? Have you turned down the volume on your talent in favor of fitting in? If your light is barely peeking out from under that bushel, allow yourself to shine—you will inspire, not intimidate. Broadcast what is special about you.

3. Love Yourself

Love is the highest frequency and gateway to your dance with the divine. The benefits of self-love are instant and enormous.

Try it, right now, by sending love down through your central core in a steady flow. With a flush of warmth and expansion, you ignite the heart and wash away doubt, insecurity, and self-limiting thoughts, and infuse calm and confidence. Move from being your worst critic to being your best cheerleader, and the world says “yes.”

When you infuse yourself with love, you honor and become more closely aligned with your creator. Set up your day—before getting out of bed, infuse yourself with love and reinforce it throughout the day. Turn your phone on selfie and have an eye-to-eye, heart-focused chat with yourself if you lose your center or if your confidence wanes. The combination of self-love and operating out of authenticity makes you invincible. You are perfect, whole, and complete.

4. Walk with a Higher Presence

Since prehistoric man, we have expressed spirituality in countless ways that are personal and unique to each of us.

When you incorporate spiritual practices and live by spiritual principles, you raise your vibrational frequency and become more closely aligned with a Universe that is invested in your highest good. A meditation practice increases this connection; however, anything that brings inspiration and joy will open your crown chakra, creating a deeper energetic connection with this wisdom and bounty. Don’t overlook the importance of joy in your life.

As you partner with this higher presence, you anchor your power. Confidence flourishes when you know that you are never alone and have an ally that’s invested in your joy, wellness, and prosperity. The hard edges of life soften, and you are propelled as the barriers of self-doubt and fear fall away. Partner up and become a co-creator of a life of abundance and wellness.

5. Engage, Expand, and Express

Engage your power by using these tools. Realization by realization, each step feeds the next in an ever-escalating ladder of growth and expansion. Express it. Show up and shout it out. When you sing your song and put your skills out in the world, you generate an energetic cycle of vitality that says to the Universe, “Give me more!” Reinforce the energetic loop by supporting and mentoring others. You are part of a sacred cycle of vitality.

Personal power and self-esteem are the foundation for creating joy and wellness. It motivates you to be more. It gives you resiliency in the face of adversity. It’s the root of mental and physical health and opens you to positive interaction with the world and a higher power.

When you step up to the plate and invest your time and interest, the Universe invests time and interest in you. Take the plunge, go out on a limb, put on your cape, and read your poetry to the trees. There is a great void just waiting for you to fill it.

How to Boost Your Confidence Through Meditation

By: Trish Thorp

You’ve had the experience of feeling good—reallygood—about yourself at least once in your life. Maybe it was something you accomplished after dedicating a lot of resources, like time, energy, and money. Or perhaps it was just a moment in time where you shined brighter ever before. Whatever that moment was, you will always remember the feeling you had, and there’s a pretty high likelihood that you would like to operate from that place as often as possible.

How to Build Confidence

Confidence is a positive state of mind centered around one’s power or abilities to be the person you want to be, to do the things you want to do, and to have what you want to have in your life. When your self-confidence is soaring, you experience emotions like happiness, joy, and inspiration that make you feel good. You feel clear, congruent, and as if you can take on the world. And yet, there are times in your life when you just don’t feel confident and your self-esteem wanes. In some cases, something happened that caused you to feel “less-than” and you can feel burdened with beliefs that you are incapable of being, doing, or having what you want. It’s important to remember that it’s not uncommon to wonder how to be more confident in yourself.

It’s also important that you learn how to tap into your inner strength on those days because your confidence affects your performance in any area of life and, likewise, your performance affects your confidence. The two are interconnected and go hand-in-hand. The downside to experiencing low self-esteem can present as both negative emotions and limiting beliefs, something that can be easily remedied through applying mindfulness-based lifestyle practices like meditation and goal-setting.

Problems with Low Self-Confidence

Low self-confidence can affect you in many ways. Some of the common issues that crop up are feelings of inadequacy, believing you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough, or you’re unworthy. Sometimes it can lead to negative thoughts that you don’t belong here (or anywhere) and, in some more extreme cases, it can lead to depression, anxiety, or taking action that ends in tragedy.

Signs of Low Self-Confidence

You or someone you care about may be experiencing low self-confidence if there is a strong presence of shame in the emotional body. According to Brené Brown, a research professor, author, and beloved public speaker on the topic, shame is an unspoken epidemic in society that leads to many forms of broken behavior. Other signs that may indicate a lack in confidence is an inability to set and enforce healthy boundaries, social withdrawal, and being fixated on putting others down.

You’ve been there at one point or another and for some, perhaps, more than others. At the end of the day, you were born whole and perfect. You come in with unique talents and special gifts that only you express in your individuated fashion. Your goal is to discover what those positive attributes are and to share those strengths with the world. To do that, you need to have the ability to anchor into your self-confidence and focus on how to build self-esteem. Fortunately, there are several tools and techniques that can help you find and stay connected with this inner aspect.

Let’s explore this three-part exercise that includes using guided meditation (or visualization) to get you feeling more confident.

Define Confidence for You

It’s helpful to understand that words mean different things to different people. What confidence means to one person may look and feel partially or entirely different to another. So, let’s start with a short journaling exercise where you will discover your own definition of confidence.

  • Begin by finding a comfortable place to rest where you won’t be distracted. You’ll want to have a clear mind and feel comfortable before you begin journaling.
  • Start with some slow, deep breathing to get yourself into a calm, centered, and balanced state so that you may focus on journaling.
  • Bring to mind your idea of confidence. You’ll probably find that some form of imagery comes to mind. You might see a picture or a short movie of a time in your life when you felt confident, or it might be of someone else who you see as exuding a strong sense of self-confidence.
  • Notice all the things you see, take in everything you hear, and connect with the feelings you feel inside.
  • Now, spend a few minutes journaling whatever came through for you; thoughts, feelings, or imagery. This will reveal what confidence looks, sounds, and feels like for you.

Create a Resource Anchor

Next, you’ll use a powerful technique that comes from neuro-linguistic programming called anchoring. Anchoring is an effective tool that helps you access a desired mindset anytime you need to. This can come in quite handy on those days when your self-esteem can use a little boost. For this exercise, you’ll create a resource anchor for confidence, which will help you get in touch with your inner self-esteem whenever you want. (Note: please read through this entire process before you begin so you understand each of the steps clearly.)

  1. The positive state you will want to anchor for this exercise is confidence. However, you can also ask yourself, “If I could feel any positive and empowering emotions at any time I wanted, what would they be?” Or, another approach is, “How would I like to feel instead (of how I feel now)?”
  2. Next, decide on a body part you want to anchor the desired state to. Most often, people will use a knuckle on their hand or an ear lobe. You want to choose a place that isn’t always coming into contact with touch because you use touch to activate or “fire off” the anchor.
  3. Now, ask yourself, “Can I remember a time when I felt confident, a specific time?” Be sure you remember a specific time.
  4. As you remember that time now, step into your body; see what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel the feelings of being totally confident.
  5. As soon as you begin to go into the state, meaning you feel totally confident, apply the stimulus by putting your finger on a chosen knuckle or reach up and touch your ear lobe (whichever body part you have chosen to “anchor” this state to). The idea is to do this right when you’re at the peak of feeling totally confident.
  6. As soon as the state begins to subside remove your finger from your knuckle or ear lobe. Be sure to remove the stimulus prior to the feeling of confidence beginning to dissipate. This is very important.
  7. Last, test the anchor to make sure it works. To do this, you need to break state, which is a way of saying reboot your mind. Simply look outside the window or walk into a different room and then come back. Test your anchor of confidence by reapplying the stimulus. Observe how you go into a state of feeling totally confident. *If you need to repeat the process, you can do so.

A Guided Meditation for Visualizing Confidence

Now it’s time to bring it all together.

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit and minimize any distractions.
  2. Close your eyes and begin to take some slow deep breaths, following your inhalation and exhalation, to allow yourself to settle into a peaceful, meditative state.
  3. Begin by bringing a real-life situation to mind where you want to be able to step into a state of confidence. Maybe it’s a conversation you need to have or a presentation you’ve been asked to deliver. Perhaps you’re wanting to ask someone on a date or set a meaningful goal.
  4. As you bring this situation to mind create a picture and then fire off the anchor you previously created. You should feel yourself shifting to an emotional state of feeling totally confident. (If not, simply repeat the anchoring process and test it to be sure it works.)
  5. Play out the scenario in your mind in the most positive way you would most like to see it unfold. Follow the movie reel all the way through to completion where you end with the most positive outcome. Take in everything you see, hear, and feel around you. Notice how much confidence you have and how amazing that feeling is.
  6. When you’re ready, open your eyes and journal for a bit about how this process was for you. Repeat as often as necessary.

In this guided visualization, you are practicing what many successful athletes do before the game. It’s called dissociated state rehearsal. It gets your mind into the state you need to be in to accomplish your goals in the moment. The more you practice this in your mind, the better you will become. These methods will help you decipher how to boost your confidence.

The final step in achieving the level of confidence you desire is to go out into the world and do it. Exactly as you’ve been imagining it in your mind, you must now take physical action to make it your reality.

HEALTHY EATING

Sausage, Squash, and Spinach Hash

What sounds more enticing for breakfast than hash? It’s warm, filling, and full of flavor. Most hash recipes use pork, potatoes, and butter. But this recipe swaps out the not-so-healthy ingredients for butternut squash, turkey sausage, and spinach for leafy green goodness. It’s the perfect way to make a classic breakfast recipe healthy without sacrificing flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces uncooked turkey sausage, casing removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups butternut squash cubes (chopped in 1/2” squares)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Directions:

Over medium heat, cook the turkey sausage in a skillet. Break it apart as it cooks until browned. Once cooked, move the sausage to a plate.

In the same skillet, add in olive oil, squash, and onions and cook until the squash is soft. Add cooked sausage, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper to your skillet. Stir until combined and then add in your spinach. 

Remove from heat and mix until spinach has wilted. Serve with hot sauce if desired.

Serves 4

February

Happy February everyone, it’s your host Sevina!

Let’s promise that we will be kind to ourselves and to others this month and beyond. We are all suffering in one way or another because of the Covid-19 pandemic, so the least we can do is to be kind to each other, to listen, and to be present for someone else. If we want to live in a better world, we need to practice kindness. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Namaste!

Enjoy the articles below.

Can you Saver in a Moment of Stillness?

By: Melli O’Brien

Things are always changing. If impermanence didn’t exist, nothing would be possible—that much we know is true. And yet, despite the beauty of constant change, like flowers blooming, clouds drifting, and families growing, change can also be painful and hard to accept. Relationships ending, aging bodies, and the loss of those we love. This we also know is true.

The one thing that always remains ever present. It’s here that we can seek refuge—a shelter—from the storms and seasons of life, the chaos of change.

Today, can you challenge yourself to find and savor a pause from the momentum of life to simply be—without trying to fill it up with tasks and movement and responsibilities? 

The easiest way to bring balance.

8 Ways to Practice Compassion for a Healthier and Stronger Relationship

By: Trish Thorp

Relationships can be one of the most joyful and fulfilling aspects of our lives, and they can also challenge us beyond comprehension. We’ve all heard that communication is the most important thing in any relationship. Yet, in the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert, author John M. Gottman, Ph.D., says that emotional intelligence is the key to a successful relationship. Regardless of whether or not you are interested in getting married, this principle of emotional intelligence can be applied to all relationships.

After studying and working with hundreds of patients, Dr. Gottman found that some relationships have horrible communication and still manage to make it through the worst of times. Having a level of emotional intelligence enables a person to still be loving with their partner even when they aren’t able to effectively communicate their needs.

We all enter into romantic relationships with the intention of enjoying ourselves and one another in a partnership and yet, when misunderstandings arise and we aren’t feeling connected with our partner, our default mode is usually to lash out at them or to shut down and go inside. The key to overcoming this and to prevent sabotaging our relationships is emotional intelligence—and a fundamental component of emotional intelligence is compassion.

The definition of compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. To be compassionate in our relationship means that we are able to recognize when our partner or spouse is suffering in some way and to be loving and kind to them as they move through their process. This kind of support can be provided in a number of ways.

Let’s consider basic human needs, as taught by psychologist Abraham Maslow. All of our behaviors are driven by our needs, and our needs are derived from our emotional states. After our needs of food and shelter have been met, each of us have very important basic needs—four of which are the need for attention, affection, appreciation, and acceptance. The ways in which we seek these things is dependent upon our level of emotional intelligence, our beliefs, and our core values. Following are some examples of how you can bring awareness to these areas and begin to practice being more compassionate in your relationship.

Attention

We all need attention—to feel seen, heard, and recognized. We need to know that we matter and that we are a part of a greater collective. Think about the ways in which you need and seek attention each day, and consider how you might provide this need for attention for your partner.

Listen with Intention

One way to be attentive toward your partner is to minimize distractions so that you can be completely present with them. Turn toward them and listen with the intention of really hearing what they are saying. Try listening with your heart rather than your mind when your partner is expressing themselves. Let them finish sharing their thoughts and feelings before interjecting your opinion or your solution, or going back to whatever you were working on. Often times, people just need to be paid attention to and feel heard.

Affection

Everyone needs some level of affection, including those who aren’t necessarily the touchy-feely types. Affection comes in many forms, including a sincere smile, a kind gesture, a gentle touch on the arm, giving hugs, or making love. You can also be affectionate in your speech by using soft tones, encouraging words, and compliments.

Be Kind with Your Speech

Sometimes it’s not what we say but, rather, how we say things. Take a moment to really consider what your partner is going through and speak to them with loving kindness. Consider a time when you were going through something similar and see how you might support your partner in a way that would have felt good for you in your own time of need.

If what they are experiencing is affecting you in a negative way, you may want to contemplate what you’re feeling inclined to say to them before doing so. Run your communication through these questions in your mind prior to verbalizing it: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Do I want to be right or do I want to have peace? 

Appreciation

Each of us has an innate need to feel valued and appreciated, especially by those we love. Find ways to show your appreciation for your partner by acknowledging their actions and being thoughtful about ordinary matters. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and imagine what their reality is like to help you better understand where they are at. Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world and they take the time to bask in their appreciation for one another. Consider the qualities and characteristics of your partner that you genuinely appreciate and share these things with them frequently.

Nurture Your Friendship and Your Relationship

Successful relationships all have a solid friendship at their core, which points to the individuals having a mutual respect for and an enjoyment of each other’s company as a foundational component. They don’t just get along, there is a fondness and an admiration for one another and they also support each other’s hopes and aspirations. It’s also highly productive to spend time having conversations about shared meaningful experiences on a regular basis.

Acceptance

As individuals, we all share an imperative need to feel accepted by our partners and in our daily lives. It’s easy to accept those aspects of ourselves and others that are beautiful, inspiring, happy, and successful. Where the real challenge lies is accepting ourselves and others’ not-so-desirable qualities.

Create a Safe Space for Your Partner to Be Themselves

Create a safe environment for your partner to be vulnerable and share themselves fully. Let them know how much you care for them and that you have no judgment toward anything they may be thinking or feeling, and that they are perfect just as they are. None of us are exempt from embodying behaviors, qualities, or characteristics that are less than desirable.

Whenever you are feeling charged up about someone else’s behavior, ask yourself: Where have I demonstrated this type of behavior in my own life? It won’t take much digging to find where we all have the capacity to exercise poor judgment and to make mistakes. The gift in recognizing this is that we are able to glean the lesson or wisdom from those qualities and use them in positive ways. By recognizing that we all share in this experience at some point or another, it helps us soften into supporting another when they are in a place of suffering or need. Tell your partner all the ways in which you appreciate and accept them for who and what they are—exactly as they are.

Sometimes it’s difficult to remain in a compassionate place with our partners. It requires a level of awareness and emotional intelligence that, at times, can seem far-reaching. You will always have some complaints about your partner and vice versa. Catching yourself before you go to a place of criticism or defensiveness and pausing for a moment can be just the thing you need to redirect your focus toward compassion for your partner. Bring yourself back to all the positive things about your relationship and wait until you’re both in a good space before discussing challenges. From this space, you can work together to set course corrections and design conscious and loving recovery strategies.

Berry Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

This recipe is warm and comforting while also providing the body with vitamins and minerals to fuel yourself during the winter months. You can make this recipe in advance and eat it throughout the week. It’s a delicious blend of sweet berries and savory oats.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 cups of frozen berries
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Coconut oil (for greasing the baking dish)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Use melted coconut oil to grease a baking dish. 

In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients except sliced almonds. Mix well to combine all the ingredients. 

Pour the berry oat mixture into your greased baking dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until cooked through. 

Sprinkle the sliced almonds and some additional cinnamon on top before serving.

Serves 6

Happy New Year! January 2021

Dear reader, our blog was on hiatus for around six months due to some exiting personal changes in my life. But now since the New Year has come, I am fully committed to continuing communication with you and exchanging mindful information. COVID is still here, so more than ever we need to support each other physically and spiritually!
Let hope and pray that 2021 will be better for all of us and for the world, that we will take better care for Mother Earth and for ourselves as well.
Namaste!
Sevina

Releasing 2020

by Roger Gabriel

Before we dive fully into the New Year, let’s do a simple exercise to start releasing whatever we don’t need to carry any more. Let’s see if we can clean the slate and make space for the many wonderful and exciting things that await us. You can do this exercise with your eyes open or closed.

  • Think back over last year. Pick an event or situation that was troubling for you.
  • What emotions are arising in you? Name them.
  • Where are you feeling the emotion in your body? Maybe some tightness or discomfort in your chest? Emotions always show up in the body. This is the stress forming. Be aware of your body and breathe into the sensation.
  • Now, take responsibility for these emotions. They are your emotions. No matter what happened, what anyone else or you did, you choose to feel the way you do. Because you chose to feel it, you can choose to release it and open the door to happier emotions. Allow your breath to soften it, to release the emotion.
  • If you wish, you can increase the speed and force of your exhale. Blow the emotion out.

You can repeat this exercise as often as necessary, anytime last year’s painful emotions surface. In time, they will become less frequent. Remember: What’s broken can be mended, what hurts can be healed, and no matter how dark it’s been, the sun is going to rise again. Anytime you feel you’ve released something from the past, reward yourself. Do something fun to celebrate.

Gratitude for 2020

And no matter how dark 2020 was, I’m sure there were times of happiness, moments when the sun broke through the clouds.

  • Take a few moments and reflect back over the year. Try not to get stuck with any of the challenges. Look for the things you’re grateful for. They could be things you experienced personally or the people you never met who worked selflessly all year.
  • Now take one or two of those things and bring them into your heart. Feel the warmth of gratitude in your heart.
  • Send a silent “Thank you” to whoever made that feeling possible.

Whenever the memories of the challenges arise, replace them with those moments of gratitude.

Welcoming the New Year

Now that you’ve cleared some space, what do you want to fill it with? How do you want the new year to unfold? What new opportunities do you want to explore?

What’s important here is to not go back to the same old stuff. From a karmic perspective, the collective consciousness and the collective ways of doing things are what created the turbulence of 2020. However you want to look at it, 2020 was a huge karmic clear out for the human race. The worst thing you can do is to now recreate that karma all over again by going back to the same habits and conditioning. The Vedas tell us that the gateways of hell are anger, lust, and greed. These gates have been open for too long, it’s not surprising what escaped. Now it’s time to closed them.

2021 brings us a wonderful opportunity to create the world you want to live in and the life you want to lead. Be bold with your desires—wimpy desires create wimpy lives. What you put your attention on grows so focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Any fears and doubts will take you back into the past so believe in yourself. You are infinite possibilities. Let’s put this into practice with another exercise. This is best done with your eyes closed or you can keep them open.

  • Let’s look into the future. How do you want 2021 to unfold? For yourself, friends and family, and the world as a whole?
  • Imagine yourself six months from now. How do you want things to like look for your life and for the world?
  • Imagine it’s this time next year. You’re looking back over 2021. How do you want the year to have been? How do you see yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually?
  • Now bring your awareness into your heart area. The heart knows the path of love, whereas the ego is where you get lost in doubts and confusion. Silently ask the following questions and then listen to the answers from your heart.
    • What are my desires for my home, finances, and personal possessions?
    • What do I want for my family and loved ones?
    • How do I want my mind and body to be?
    • How do I want my spiritual journey to unfold?
    • How do I want my community and the world to be?
  • Being attached to the outcome of a desire limits it and blocks the possibility of something even more magnificent. Imagine you’re releasing all those desires into the silence of infinite organizing power and letting the universe deliver the perfect gifts.
  • Write down your desires. You can group them like we just did or as one list. Read them before your meditations and before you sleep at night, then let them go. Allow the faint impression of them to be carried within and planted, like a seed, in the most fertile field of your consciousness.

The start of a new year is your opportunity to rise higher than ever before. In your essence, you are the totality of the universe. You are equal to everyone. Remain unaffected by what anyone says, and nothing can harm you unless you allow it.

The head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, Swami Chidanand Saraswati tells us, “Our purpose is to live up to our full, divine potential as conscious, holy beings. So, let us pledge to always remember what our purpose is—to live lives of purity, peace, selflessness, integrity, and love—and let us never allow anyone to divert us from that goal.”

There may still be challenges in 2021, but nothing you can’t handle. Be bold with your desires, anything is possible. Always strive for the best, you deserve it. And know, we will be here supporting you.

Wishing you a safe, happy, healthy, and peaceful year. Namaste.

8 Yoga Poses to Help You Manage Stress

by Adam Brady

No matter who you are, where you live, or what type of work you do, chances are good that stress is a regular part of your life. Stress takes the form of anything that prevents the fulfillment of a desire, or how you respond when your needs are not being met.

Stress can put a strain on your health, emotions, relationships, and overall well-being. Finding strategies to manage or mitigate its damaging effects can be a vital component to a healthy, happy life.

In addition to meditation, hatha yoga poses provide a powerful strategy to control and down-regulate the fight-or-flight response brought on by stressful life conditions. By its very nature, yoga (as a physical exercise) is soothing on both the body and mind.

Practicing yoga can help alleviate stress by:

  • Activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the opposite of the fight-or-flight response)
  • Supporting the elimination of toxins from the body
  • Releasing muscular tension and rigidity
  • Releasing energy blockages
  • Deepening breathing
  • Stimulating circulation
  • Drawing attention inward

Several yoga poses are especially effective for managing stress and can provide real-time relief during challenging situations. Try one of these eight poses next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

1. Happy Baby Pose

The Happy Baby pose is a wonderful pose for calming the mind and relieving fatigue and stress. It also provides a comforting stretch to the lower back and spine, while creating space in the inner thighs. 

How to do it:

• Lie on your back and, as you exhale, draw your knees in toward your chest. 
• Inhale and, with your hands on your knees, comfortably lower them out to the sides. 
• Reach up to grasp the outsides of your feet or toes with your hands. (If you have limited flexibility, hold on to a strap or belt looped over the sole of each foot.) 
• Try to keep your ankles over your knees and press your feet up into your hands or the strap. 
• Lightly rock yourself from side to side as you breathe deeply for five to seven breaths, embodying the pristine innocence and security of a baby in its crib. 

2. Legs Against the Wall Pose

A very relaxing pose, Legs Against the Wall gives the body a much-needed rest, calming the nervous system, aiding in circulation, calming the mind, and taking pressure off the spine and neck as the body sinks into the floor.

How to do it:

• Position your body with knees close to your chest next to a bare wall that’s free of any potential obstacles. (Use a folded blanket or towel placed beneath your hips for comfort and support.) 
• Exhale and, in one smooth movement, roll onto your back as you swing your legs up against the wall. (Your distance from the wall will depend on your height and what feels comfortable for you. Experiment with finding the ideal distance for your body.)
• Keep your legs straight and relatively firm as you sink your shoulders and back into the floor. 
• Draw your head and neck away from your shoulders, and extend your arms out to the sides, palms facing up. 
• Remain in the pose between five and 10 minutes, breathing in a gentle and relaxed manner. 
• When coming out of the pose, bend your knees as you easily roll to your side and off your support.

3. Bridge Pose

Bridge pose is helpful for calming the brain and alleviating stress and tension. It reduces anxiety while stimulating the thyroid, lungs, and abdominal organs. 

How to do it:

• Lie on the floor with your knees up and the soles of your feet near your buttocks. (If needed, place a thickly folded towel or blanket beneath your shoulders to protect your neck.) 
• As you exhale, press your feet down into the floor or mat as you raise your hips up toward the sky. Engage your thighs and actively press your shoulders down into the mat. 
• Clasp your hands below your hips and “walk” your shoulder blades under you so your arms are extended.
• Feel the opening of your chest and keep your chin tucked in and downward, avoiding turning your head to the side. 
• Take five to seven long slow breaths before exhaling and gently rolling back down to the mat, coming down one vertebra at a time.

4. Seated Forward Bend

Seated Forward Bend folds the body over itself, creating a feeling of retreating from the over activity of the world. It lengthens the back while calming the mind and aiding in digestion. 

How to do it:

• Sit with both legs together and straight out in front of you, toes pointing upward as if they were up against a wall.
• Inhale and extend your arms straight up overhead, lengthening from the hips and through the spine. 
• As you exhale, fold your upper body down from the hips toward your legs, reaching with your hands toward your feet. 
• Allow your hands to rest wherever they can comfortably reach. 
• Relax your shoulders down and away from your ears and soften your elbows. Withdraw your senses and let your awareness soften into the pose. 
• Relax and breathe for five to seven breaths. 

5. Cow-Cat Pose

Cow-Cat pose is a gentle up and down flowing posture that brings flexibility to the entire spine. It stretches and lengthens the back, torso, and neck, and is a wonderful and easy movement that establishes a steady breathing rhythm and calms the nervous system. 

Here’s how to do it:

• Come down on all fours into a neutral, table-top position. (Be sure to align the hands below the shoulders and knees directly beneath the hips.) 
• Looking straight ahead, inhale and slowly extend through your spine as you look up and forward, softly arching through the back and neck. (Take care to expand through your chest and lower your shoulders down and back.) 
• Move into cat pose by reversing the movement as you exhale and bring your chin towards your chest while gently hunching and rounding your back. 
• Repeat this sequence for seven to 10 cycles, softly flowing with your breath.

6. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a deeply restorative pose that can be very relaxing for the neck and back. It can also help reduce stress, anxiety, and mental tension. 

Here’s how to do it:

• Start in an all-fours position.
• Exhaling, sink your hips back toward your heels and reach your arms out along the floor in front of you. 
• Lower your hips only as far as your body will comfortably allow. 
• Reach through your arms, extending into your shoulders as you bring your forehead to the floor between your hands. (As an alternative position, you may choose to stack your hands or make soft fists to rest your head.) 
• Relax completely and allow any bodily tension to release. 
• Remain in the pose, breathing easily for any length of time between 30 seconds and several minutes.

Note: Child’s pose is an inversion that places the head below the heart. Avoid this pose if you have high blood pressure or eye problems. 

7. Easy Pose

A soothing seated pose for cultivating deep calm and groundedness, Easy pose also helps align and straighten the back, while lightly stretching the ankles and knees. It allows the hips to open and strengthens the muscles of the spine.

Here’s how to do it:

• Sit comfortably with your legs crossed on the floor. (You can lightly fold one foot on the floor tucked in front of the other. If you need additional support, sit on a folded towel or blanket.) 
• Press your sitting bones down into the floor.
• Elongate your spine and sit up tall as you relax and roll your shoulders downward to open your chest. 
• Feel the crown of your head lifting up toward the sky and close your eyes as you breathe deeply and steadily for as long as comfortable. (If you sit in Easy pose for a prolonged period of time, be sure to alternate the cross of your legs for balance.)

8. Corpse Pose

Corpse pose, or relaxation pose, is arguably the most restorative yoga pose in existence. Typically practiced at the end of a yoga class, this pose is powerfully beneficial for stress and anxiety relief. It helps you experience deep peace as your mind-body integrates the subtle changes in physiology from practicing various poses. 

Here’s how to do it:

• Comfortably make your way to the floor and lie on your back. 
• Extend your legs straight along the floor. (If your back is uncomfortable with your legs straight, draw your knees up and place the soles of your feet on the floor with your knees softly touching.) 
• Extend your arms down at your sides, palms facing up.
• Make any adjustments you need to feel comfortable—wiggle your hips, roll your head from side to side, or position your shoulder blades slightly closer to each other. 
• Close your eyes and breathe naturally and effortlessly. 
• Relax your face and jaw and let go of any remaining tension in your neck or spine. 
• Drift into the stillness for five to 15 minutes.

Used singularly or together in sequence, these poses can go a long way in helping you manage the debilitating effects of regular stress on your system. Give them a try and experience the ways yoga can help you maintain a state of calm and centered balance in times of stress.

10 Rules for an Ayurvedic Diet

by Erin Easterly

Ayurveda has long used diet as a principal means of creating health within the body and mind. Hundreds of years before Hippocrates instructed, “Let food be thy medicine,” Ayurveda defined principles for making that advice practical. Food selection, meal timing, and state of awareness during meals either increases ojas(vitality) or ama (toxicity). The following 10 rules will serve as a guide for tapping into the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and using it to create health, vitality, and energy through food. 

1. Select Foods for Your Dosha Type

Ayurveda maintains that each person has a unique mind-body constitution, known as a dosha. One’s current doshic imbalance, known as vikruiti, is a combination of two elements that are heightened within the physiology. By eating foods that decrease the heightened elements, harmony can be restored with the body. In general, the following Ayurvedic principles can be applied to selecting and preparing foods for the three doshas:

  • The Vata dosha (air and space elements) is by nature cool, dry, light, and rough. Eating foods that counteract those characteristics creates balance. Persons with excess Vata energy will restore balance through foods that are warm (in terms of both temperature and spice), hydrating (such as soups and stews), full of healthy fats (like olive oil, ghee, organic cream, and avocados), and grounding (think dense, healthy comfort foods).
  • The Pitta dosha (fire and water elements) tends toward hot, oily, light, and sharp qualities. Therefore, eating foods that are cool (especially in terms of internal cooling such as is seen with peppermint, cucumber, cilantro, and parsley), astringent (beans, legumes, pomegranate, and green tea), substantial, and mild will minimize the aggravation of the Pitta.
  • The Kapha dosha (earth and water elements) expresses as heavy, cool, oily, and smooth qualities. Eating foods that are light, warm, dry (like beans and popcorn) and rough (think “roughage” such as vegetables) will have Kaphaback in balance in no time.

Discover your dosha type here.

2. Eliminate Snacks

According to Ayurvedic principles, there are three stages of digestion that must be completed after a meal. In the first hour after a meal, the Kapha energies are dominant. The body may feel full, heavy, and sedate. Two to four hours after a meal the elements of Pitta govern digestion. During this time, hydrochloric acid increases, internal heat rises, and the meal is transformed into sustenance for the body. Four to five hours after a meal the Vata energies rise. It is during this time that lightness and space return and appetite increases.

Interruption of the digestive cycle with more food leads to incomplete digestion. Over time, incomplete digestion results in the accumulation of ama or toxins, which may present as a plethora of mild to moderate symptoms. For this reason, Ayurveda recommends three meals each day, with no snacks in between to maintain digestion and keep your stomach stress-free.

3. Eat Until Satisfied, Not Full

Imagine that your stomach is a gas gauge with numbers from one to ten. On that gauge, the number one is completely empty and ten is overly full. You want to eat when you get to a two and stop when you get to a seven. Eating before you get to a two puts you at risk of interrupting the digestive cycle. Eating past a seven diverts an enormous amount of energy from important physiological tasks.

Aside from the obvious consequence of weight gain, overeating increases free radical production in the body, which in turn speeds the aging process. By setting down the fork when you are satisfied, but not stuffed, you avoid overeating and the body receives the nourishment that it needs without the added burden of digesting, and oftentimes storing, unnecessary calories.

4. Consume Whole, Fresh Foods

Prana—not food itself, but your life force—nourishes the body at the most fundamental level and is responsible for the creation of health, vitality, and energy. The various elements of food, such as the vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient contents are merely reflections of the energetic, or pranic, imprint.

According to the Ayurveda diet, the best way to increase ojas, the supplier of life force in the body, is to increase prana. Foods with abundant prana come straight from the Earth. Their prana has been derived through the mingling of sunshine, water, and earth energies. The moment food is picked, its prana begins slowly diminishing. Therefore, eating foods that are as fresh as possible will increase prana more readily than eating the same foods further from their harvest time. Local community support agriculture and farmer’s markets are invaluable resources for finding fresh foods with high life force.

5. Include All Six Tastes at Every Meal

Ayurveda recognizes six tastes, each of which communicates a unique combination of energy and information to the physiology. By incorporating each of the six tastes into every meal, the body receives a bio-diverse energetic palate. This energetic palate supplies the body’s cells with instructions specific to one of the taste categories. In general, the six tastes inform the body with the following cellular information:

  1. Sweet: Grounding, strengthening, nourishing
  2. Sour: Cleansing, purifying
  3. Salty: Balancing, regulating
  4. Bitter: Detoxifying, mineralizing
  5. Astringent: Anti-inflammatory, cooling
  6. Pungent: Warming, stimulating

Try to include a small amount of each taste into every meal. It may be only a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon, or a slice of pepper but as long as the taste is present, the energetic puzzle will be complete.

6. Reduce Ice Cold Foods and Beverages

The inner fire, known as agni, is the digestive power of the physical and energetic body. Agni is similar to a blazing campfire. Ideally functioning, it is hot, bright, and able to digest food, thoughts, emotions, and experiences. To stoke one’s inner fire, it is necessary to avoid dimming agni’s intensity with ice-cold foods and beverages. The agni of all doshas can become depleted if a steady stream of cold food or drinks is consumed. Vata and Kapha doshas, in particular, should lean toward warm foods and teas, while Pitta doshas may enjoy cool (but not frozen) beverages and foods. In this way, the digestive power will remain strong.

7. Eliminate Distractions While Eating

How many times have you read a book, watched TV, checked emails, or returned phone calls while eating? If you’re like most people, the answer is, “Quite a few.” The Ayurveda diet suggests that mealtime is an opportunity to connect with the inherent energy and information of the food you consume. See the colors, taste the flavors, and bring awareness to the sunshine, soil, and earth that have collaborated to create the bundles of energy of food.

If eating with deep awareness is new to you, begin by taking just one meal a day in silence and focusing on each of your senses for a few minutes at a time.

8. Stop Eating Three Hours Before Bedtime

During sleep, the body repairs, heals, and restores while the mind digests thoughts, emotions, and experiences from the day. If the body’s energy is diverted into physical digestion, the physical healing and mental digestive processes are halted. For this reason, Ayurveda medicine recommends that the last meal of the day be relatively light and completed three hours before bed to avoid this imbalance. In this way, the body’s prana is free to do its rest and repair work at the deepest levels during sleep.

9. Favor Herbal Teas Between Meals

Tea is not just a palate-pleasing beverage, it is also a powerful healer that can aid in restoring health, vitality, and joy. To avoid diluting agni, beverages, including teas, should be minimally consumed with meals (no more than 1/2 cup). However, between meals, teas can be enjoyed liberally and act as herbal remedies. Drinking tea between meals pumps the body full of “liquid medicine,” curbs snack cravings, facilities detoxification, and stokes the digestive fire.

Vata doshas will find grounding and calmness in warm, spicy teas such as cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Pittas, who can take their tea either hot or cool, will find cooling herbs such as peppermint, coriander, and rose to be balancing. Kaphaswill increase energy, digestion, and optimism with licorice, black pepper, and cardamom.

10. Eat Your Largest Meal of the Day at Lunchtime

Agni is strongest when the sun is highest. By consuming the largest meal of the day at noon, the body is able to use its powerful inner fire to breakdown and assimilate nutrients with less energetic output than at other times of the day. The noon meal is the best time of the day to integrate heavier or difficult-to-digest foods. This is also the most ideal time for a splurge food (think an icy drink or sugary treat). By eating the largest meal at midday, the body remains well supplied with energy throughout the afternoon hours, thus helping to alleviate the “afternoon energy slump.”

Each of these ancient Ayurvedic rules will help you remain healthy not only by virtue of the food you are eating but how you eat it. And don’t forget to take your time to enjoy your meals and be grateful for the foods you eat along the way.

July

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Hello everyone, we are in the middle of summer and are still dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Hang it there, my friends! I hope the articles below will help you to bring your body and mind into healing and balance, and give you some sense of stability and security. Enjoy!

Namaste

10 Tips to Manage Your Doshas While in Quarantine

By Suhas Kshirsagar, B.A.M.S., M.D. (Ayurveda), 

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If you have been feeling emotionally fearful and have thoughts of uncertainty, here are a few simple techniques that you can follow to restore your faith in the divine and diffuse anxiety and pressure.

These are uncertain and challenging times. It is probably the first time where all of humanity, in every corner of the world, is collectively affected. The most difficult aspect is the lack of clarity about the future. Everybody is anxious—from children to seniors—about health, money, travels, and much more.

Thoughts and emotions affect everyone, but how you respond to them can vary. Ayurveda talks about different mind-body types, called doshas, and how, depending on your type, you process and react to stress. This is what stress can do to you depending on your type:

  • Vatas (or air predominant) can get anxious very easily. They can become fearful, restless, sleepless, and terribly worried.
  • Pittas (or fire predominant) can get angry, petty, agitated, impatient, and overly critical.
  • Kaphas (or water predominant) can become lazy, dull, heavy, depressed, and depleted of energy.

Now, imagine you have all of these mind-body types living under one roof in quarantine—it can heighten stress levels substantially!

However, there are specific positive emotional antidotes you can use. For example, you can combat fear with trust or faith, anger with love, and depression with motivation. These positive emotions, along with affirmations, can help to alter your mindset and make you feel relaxed and purposeful. Here are some ideas for you to check out during these trying times.

  1. Meditate

Meditation is great for mental health and well-being and can help relieve stress. Different doshas respond to the same meditation technique differently, but all enjoy the benefit of it. For example:

  • Vatas can feel supported by the higher self or divine and are less anxious and fearful after meditation. They feel the presence of grace, which helps to restore their faith during uncertain times.
  • Pittas can feel the love and stability during a situation that is beyond their control after meditation. They can willingly surrender in the “gap” and feel calm and content.
  • Kaphas can feel the ever-changing energy of consciousness that lifts their depression and allows them to feel uplifted and motivated after meditation.
  1. Breathe

Breath is the link between the individual and collective consciousness. It can help you deal with the fight-freeze-flight mode. Practice two minutes of deep diaphragmatic breathing several times a day.

Practicing a conscious breathing exercise (pranayama) is a great way to link your mind with your body. Pranayama can help soothe a restless Vata’s mind, an impatient Pitta’s mind, and a heavy Kapha’s mind.

  1. Accept the Wheel of Time 

What goes around, comes around. For example, if you are worried about money, trust that it will get better. It is the cycle of nature. Even though space-time is an illusion it does affect the mind-body types differently. For example:

  • Vatas tend to be more futuristic, thinking and worrying about the future.
  • Pittas tend to stay present and overly focused.
  • Kaphas often lament about things in the past.

Consciously slowing down the pace of life by meditating helps the dosha types learn to be present. They appreciate the present moment and do not feel anxious about the past or future. It may take a few more months to normalize these uncertain times, but be aware of and grateful for what you have right now. Conserve your resources and get ready for a new future with a better understanding of your finances and priorities in life.

  1. Connect with Friends & Family

Humans are social beings, and Vatas especially, like to be touched and hugged. It calms their mind and makes them feel connected. Vatas like sunshine, bright colors, and a variety of experiences. Pittas enjoy sports, competition, and greenery. Kaphas enjoy the warmth outside, gardening, and lifting weights. Physical movements have a calming and relaxing effect on each mind-body type. If this activity is done with friends and in groups, it can be even more motivating and fun.

It is important to stay connected with your core group of friends, family, and loved ones who know you well and can provide unconditional love. Chat with them, laugh, share, and go down memory lane with them to get a better perspective on how far you have come with people who have watched you succeed. When life is stressful, it is great to be able to lean into your support group.

  1. Feel Your Feelings

Your feelings are genuine. Your dosha-specific mind can generate thoughts, feelings, and emotions that affect your physiology instantly. Vatas’ minds are worried, anxious, and fearful when under stress. Pittas’ minds can be impatient, irritable, and reckless in a situation that is beyond their control. Kaphas’ minds may feel dull, heavy, and unmotivated.

Do not be afraid to share your feelings with others and even yourself. It is always a good idea to release the emotional pressure and gain insight into what you are feeling. When you talk to someone, you can replace feelings of helplessness with uplifting feelings of motivation.

  1. Share 

Give others what you want for yourself. All dosha types respond best when they feel valued, appreciated, and grateful. When you give, it comes back to you. If you want to feel less anxious, help someone else calm down. If you listen to others and their needs, counsel them, provide them with resources, or simply try to understand their pain, you will feel calm, content, and relaxed. It is human nature.

  1. Avoid Unwanted Clutter

Information is everywhere. News channels, conspiracy theories, and internet rumors sap your peace of mind and vitality. Vatas tend to easily and quickly reach information overload, Pittas can get very logical and overanalytical when overstimulated, and Kaphas can feel overwhelmed and depressed with confusing information. Replace the information clutter with something that you like—a favorite movie, music, or an inspiring Ted Talk.

The same goes for your physical space too. Clutter in your home, can lead to clutter and anxiety in your mind. During the stay-at-home order, it is even more important to keep a tidy dwelling since that is where you will be 24/7.

  1. Avoid Nonessential Shopping

Shopping can be addictive. Vatas especially can get very tempted with various websites, sales, and promotions. Pittas can spend hours comparing products. Kaphas can get possessive and start hoarding things. Try not to buy anything that you do not need for now. Minimize unwanted financial burden by being selective and prudent.

  1. Move Your Body

Keep yourself active. Physical movements help you unwind and relax. Practicing sun salutations, jogging, lifting weights, or enjoying some other fun-filled activity all help to improve your circulation. Vatas respond well to slow movements like Yoga or Tai Chi. Pittas tend to prefer cardio, weight, and sports. Kaphas may benefit from slow, long-distance hikes, cardio, and sauna.

  1. Believe in the Divine

Every dosha needs to establish a connection with the Divine. It makes Vatas feel supported, it deflates the egos of Pittas, and helps Kaphas feel uplifted and motivated. Believe in something bigger and better than yourself. A deity, guru, spiritual teachings, or prayer that connects you with a greater field of consciousness and allows you to rise above the present crises with the wisdom of eternity.

Understanding your mind-body type and cultivating a positive lifestyle are great ways to help you maintain calm during these uncertain times. You should try to fill your day with mindful activities, positive affirmations, and extra emphasis on dietsleep, and exercise.

 

More Than a Stretch: 6 Profound Effects Asanas Have on Your Body and Mind

By Adam Brady, Vedic Educator

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Due to its high visibility in the public eye, asana has become somewhat of a cultural symbol for what it means to practice yoga. Here are six reasons you should incorporate asanas into your daily life. The study of asana is not about mastering posture. It’s about using posture to understand yourself.

Asana: Not So Static

To begin our exploration, let’s consider the way yoga asana relates to static stretching. Static stretching is defined as any stretch that is performed without movement. At first glance, this definition would seem to apply perfectly to yoga asana. However, if you dig deeper into the broader yoga philosophy, you’ll see why this comparison doesn’t really fit. This is because yoga doesn’t view the body as a fixed thing. The physical body is an ever-changing field of energy, transformation, and intelligence.

  • With every breath, you exchange trillions of atoms with the universe.
  • With each position you enter into, certain muscles contract (called the agonist muscles) while other muscles relax and lengthen (called the antagonistic muscles).
  • With each macro- and micro-adjustment to the pose, circulation increases or decreases.
  • With every shift in attention and intention, subtle energies are mobilized.
  • With increased relaxation, your stress, anxiety, and mental and emotional toxins are released.

Seen in this light, the notion of “static stretching” is somewhat a misnomer when it comes to yoga asana because, in the final analysis, a yoga pose isn’t a noun or a fixed thing like a statue. Instead, an asana is a verb; it’s a process, a doing-ness that fosters a deeper integration between body and mind. It’s this communication that cultivates a feedback loop of self-regulation—your ability to return to a state of homeostatic balance.

As you tune in deeply to the sensations of your body, your breathing, and the content of your awareness during a yoga asana, you are able to make modifications that lead you toward a more comfortable and embodied expression of the pose. In this way, an asana becomes the physical expression of who you are in this moment; the art of expressing the human body through form, breath, and presence.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the profound effects asana practice can have on your mind and body.

Strengthens Primordial Movement Patterns

Outside of an athletic pursuit, most modern humans spend the bulk of their waking hours in one of four primary positions or movement patterns:

  • Lying
  • Sitting
  • Standing
  • Walking

Sadly, these options make up only a fraction of the movements in which your body is capable.

By contrast, your primitive ancestors didn’t lie around all day; they were very active and used their bodies in many different ways. They ran, climbed, crawled, jumped, swung, twisted, bent, and reached their way into countless primordial and animalistic movement patterns. These movements might seem “primitive” by our modern standards, but they actually helped the human body remain strong, flexible, balanced, and harmonized with the laws of nature.

Yoga asanas embody these primal movements and help you connect more deeply to the roots of your humanity. In addition, since many poses are named after other members of the animal kingdom, they help you to integrate those qualities into your movements and practice.

Develops Functional Physical Attributes

All asanas can help you build one (or more) of several key functional movement attributes:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Coordination

All of these are, to a greater or lesser degree, elements of the majority of all yoga poses. Depending on the pose, one attribute might receive more emphasis than others, but a well-rounded asana sequence will be structured so that it provides a balanced blend of poses that cultivate these foundational attributes. If performed at a vigorous pace, asana (such as Sun Salutations) can help to enhance aerobic capacity and cardiovascular strength. In addition, these qualities, along with the improved coordination brought about through practice, help to build proprioception—the awareness and perception of the position and movements of the body in space.

Enhances Circulation

The movements of the body in and through asanas provide a boost to your circulation. As you bend, twist, fold, and extend your body, you flex and contract muscles, flushing a fresh supply of blood through that tissue. Strenuous poses can also increase heart rate, pumping additional blood to different parts of the body. Inverted poses in particular, use gravity to encourage deoxygenated blood flow back to the heart, improving circulation.

Enhanced circulation doesn’t only apply to blood, however. Your lymphatic system is a key component in your immune function, helping to move white blood cells throughout your body through a network of ducts and glands. Unlike the heart though, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, so its circulation depends on the motions of muscles and joints for it to move. Asana practice is a powerful way to help keep your lymphatic system circulating and healthy.

Massages Organs and Strengthens Facia

Due to the nature of body positioning around the spinal axis, your internal organs often receive a gentle squeeze during asana practice. Twisting movements specifically create a massaging-type effect on several organs located in your torso, flushing them with a fresh supply of blood.

In addition, connective tissue called facia, which functions like something like an internal web or scaffolding around your organs, is also strengthened and toned through regular asana practice. The facia network also contributes to enhancing the previously mentioned inner sense of proprioception. Through a variety of yoga poses, the nerve endings in the facia send and receive an unending stream of information between mind and body, telling you a unique story about your body’s orientation, balance, weight, stability, and overall position.

Enhances Respiratory Function

Yogic Breathing or Pranayama is the fourth branch of Raja Yoga and consists of numerous techniques to enhance neuro-respiratory integration. Asana practice provides an opportunity to cultivate your breathing practice while you move through different poses.

As you take on different positions, your breathing is forced to adapt to the posture, the muscles involved, the pressure on the chest or abdomen, or the mobility of the diaphragm. Each subtle nuance in the pose may affect the depth, pace, or rhythm of your breathing. With each change, you can notice the sensations and strive to maintain deep, balanced breathing, often by using the Ujjayi Breath. This process of using your breath as a bridge between mind and body strengthens your respiratory function while simultaneously keeping you anchored in the pose and present moment.

As an added side effect, practicing pranayama during asana soothes your nervous system, giving you greater control over its autonomic function; if you can stay focused and calm, and breathe during a challenging pose, it will make it that much easier to do so during life’s daily stressors.

Channels Subtle and Archetypal Energies

Though not as apparent as the physiological qualities already mentioned, no discussion on asana would be complete without touching on the subtle benefits hidden within yoga poses.

Yoga asanas enliven prana or the primordial life force, and in so doing help to mobilize and circulate energy through the subtle body of mind, intellect, and ego. Different poses influence the prana allowing it to flow more easily through the 70,000 nadis or subtle energetic channels situated throughout the body. Asana practice also helps energize and balance the major chakras, or energetic junction points, between mind, body, and spirit.

Lastly, asana practice can invoke and activate subtle archetypal energies that lie dormant within you. For example, when you embody Warrior, Mountain, Tree, or Sage poses, at either conscious or unconscious levels, you are calling forth those qualities into your life. A warrior feels courageous, a mountain feels stable, a tree feels flexible, a sage feels wise.

When you choose poses with qualities you wish to embody, you are calling for those attributes to express themselves through you during your asana practice and throughout your life. As anyone who practices asana regularly can tell you, each pose has its own personality, its own character, its own energy. With consistent practice, those mythic qualities of gods and goddesses, mountains, serpents, and birds become a part of you—helping you discover your full potential.

Eating to Balance Your Chakras

By Erin Easterly, Ayurvedic Therapist and Educator, and Yoga Teacher

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Your body, mind, and chakras need to be nourished. Here are practical ways to integrate dietary considerations into your overall energy balancing regimen.

Most people have heard of the charka system and understand it to be a collection of seven distinct energies that contribute to specific physical and emotional states. While there are numerous methods of modulating the energy flowing into the chakras, one very accessible means is through diet. Below are ways to integrate dietary considerations into your overall energy-balancing regimen and keep your chakras balanced.

1. Muladhara (Root) Chakra

The root chakra governs stability, survival, and security. It contains a predominance of Earth energy, which is the densest of the five elements. Of all the chakras, the root is the one most easily stabilized through food. Why? Food comes from the Earth, and as such, all foods contain a greater or lesser degree of Earth energy.

In that sense, simply eating regular meals with healthy, organic foods will churn the energy of the base chakra. Foods that contain a large quantity of Earth energy, and therefore ones that are best suited to increasing flow within the root chakra, include grains, nuts, legumes, root vegetables, and meats. At times when you are feeling particularly ungrounded or weak, roasted root vegetables, baked chicken, or quinoa can act as a particularly grounding meal.

Since the Earth element creates structure, frequently eating Earth-heavy foods may result in an increase in body mass. Except during times of extreme transition, such as the death of a loved one, a major move, or recovery from an illness, Earth-heavy foods are best combined with other elemental food energies.

2. Svadhishtana (Sacral) Chakra

The second chakra governs emotions, senses, intimacy, and connection. It is governed by water energy, which is nourishing, soothing, fluid, flexible, and dynamic.

When you are looking to enliven sexual energy and passion in your life, integrate juicy, orange fruits such as mangos, oranges, apricots, nectarines, and persimmons. Their lightness and high-water content will provide a burst of energy to the second chakra.

In addition, moist foods with an abundance of seeds such as passion fruit and strawberries are good for activating this chakra. Heavier orange foods, such as pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes will offer more sustained, creative energy that can help to ground and stabilize the sacral chakra.

So, if you want to make love, eat a platter of strawberries, peaches, and passion fruit but if you want to write a book or engage in some passion project, go with roasted butternut squash and pumpkin bread.

3. Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra

The third charka houses the energy that contributes to will power, self-control, ambition, and personal transformation. When balanced, this chakra creates a sense of purpose and direction. The third chakra is governed by the fire element.

Pungent, salty, and sour foods—each of which contain fire—are helpful in activating its power. Pungent foods, a combination of fire and air, include chilies, peppers, garlic, onions, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and oregano. Salty foods, a blend of water and fire, incorporate all sea vegetables, fish, celery, and soy sauce. Sour foods, a mixture of earth and fire, encompass citrus foods, sour berries, fermented foods, vinegar, and alcohol.

Since the third and first chakras influence one another, the particular combination of foods you select for third chakra activation will be closely tied to the stability of the root chakra. A good rule of thumb is this: if you find it hard to initiate your motivation, spice things up with pungent foods; if you feel insecure and need to activate your personal power, go with the sour and salty foods. Regardless of root chakra stability, hot ginger tea is an ideal accompaniment for this chakra.

4. Anahata (Heart) Chakra

The fourth chakra is the energy center that nourishes love, compassion, kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. It allows you to feel for others and yourself. The fourth chakra is governed by the air element.

Astringent and bitter foods are useful in initiating air energy. Astringent foods, a combination of air and earth elements, tend to have tannins that result in a drying sensation in the mouth. Green tea, red wine, pomegranate seeds, unripe bananas, and most beans are astringent in nature. Bitter foods, a fusion of air and ether, consist of all leafy greens, coffee, and dark chocolate. Fresh green juices, salads, and smoothies are ideal compliments to a heart-opening regimen.

5. Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra

The fifth chakra houses the energy of communication, integrity, honesty, self-expression, and openness. It allows you to speak your truth clearly and kindly. The fifth chakra is predominantly ruled by the ether element. Ether is light, formless, and insubstantial.

As the chakra energies become less form-based, the foods that balance them have more to do with the subtle energies of color than of form. Blue foods, such as blueberries, blackberries, blue corn, and borage are significant contributors to the fifth chakra.

In addition, one of the best ways to balance this chakra is to take one meal a day in silence so that you may chew your food thoroughly. It is difficult to talk and chew well, so eating without talking or other distractions, including reading, listening, watching, or otherwise diverting your attention, will exercise and strengthen the throat chakra.

6. Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra

The sixth chakra, often referred to as the third eye, is the seat of intuition. Its energy encourages extra sensory perceptions, gut feelings, and hunches to make their way into your awareness. The element associated with the sixth chakra is that of light.

The sixth chakra is primarily activated by spending short periods of time in the sunlight. In the absence of sunlight, this chakra can be enhanced by spending time in the “inner light” via meditation.

Secondarily, the sixth chakra receives a boost from purple-tinted foods such as grapes, figs, eggplants, purple kale, purple cabbage, plums, purple potatoes, and lavender tea.

7. Sahaswara (Crown) Chakra

The crown chakra is located at the crown of the head and connects you to formless being. This chakra is sometimes referred to as the thousand-petaled lotus as its energy radiates in a thousand different directions. Since all elements are from the realm of form, there is no form-based element associated with this chakra. Its association is with pure consciousness.

The best way to balance this chakra through diet is to simply stop eating. Fasting has long been a revered part of most spiritual traditions. Even modern science is advocating relatively short (24-36 hours) fasting windows. Pausing the flow of food detoxifies the body, flushes out toxins, boosts your energy, and clears the mind.

While each of the chakras will occasionally need extra attention, the best way to maintain balance is to tend to each of them every day. Eat a varied diet full of colors, textures, and taste qualities. Also carve out time not to eat each day, perhaps from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Drink nourishing teas, spend time in the sun, and breathe in the fresh air. Your body, mind, and chakras will be nourished.

 

 

June

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Hello everyone, it is June already and many of you are feeling isolated or trapped by the Covid-19 pandemic, so let’s talk about how you feel.

As a living, breathing, feeling human being, you are bound to experience challenging times like this. But the trick is remembering that while this feeling is real, this experience is only temporary, and soon you’ll be in a new season of life with new challenges to face. Reality has a transient nature. Reality is a perspective. It is changeable. Reality lives in your mind and Truth lives in your heart.

Namaste!

 

How Mental Healing Can Still Flourish in the Midst of COVID-19

By Breanna Pereira, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer and NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach

A story of self-discovery, acceptance, and self-compassion in the midst of COVID-19.

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How fitting that the anniversary of the acceptance of my depression would fall around Mental Health Awareness Month. Last year, I had paid no attention to it; this year, I am excited to pay homage to it. However, like most celebrations over the past couple of months, this will be spent with the looming effects of the global pandemic COVID-19. It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a year since I’ve had one of the most pivotal conversations of my young adult life—and it started with one simple question from a coworker:

“How are you really doing?”

This led me to admit to something I had been resisting for almost 10 years: I have depression and I need professional help in order to overcome it. I had mastered the art of masking my mental distress, but I eventually learned that masking is not a cure. It was a painful combination of fear, shame, and resistance.

As a health fitness specialist in the San Francisco/Bay Area, I am supposed to be the hype (wo)man. The one who motivates others to want to make changes to increase their quality of life, but that goes far beyond a number on a scale. It also entails the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. I realized that if I wanted to be authentic in my career, it was going to require me to step outside of myself and seek help. In order to celebrate change, and to encourage it in others, I needed to embrace it wholeheartedly in my own life first.

I remember sitting in the waiting room of my therapist’s office and filling out the initial assessment forms.

Circle what applies to you.

Circling depression is what made it all real.

Overcoming the Stigmas Around Mental Health

Depression is something that I’ve known has always lived inside of me, but I was too afraid to say it out loud. I was afraid of the stigma that comes with the words: depression, anxiety, and therapy.

After a handful of sessions, my therapist helped me realize that those stigmas would only become a reality if I chose to breathe life into them. I have to constantly remind myself that I am on a journey of self-discovery, understanding, and self-compassion.

As a “recovering perfectionist and an aspiring ‘good-enoughist’” (thank you, Brené Brown), this has been an incredibly difficult year for me. Taking the time to chip away these walls I have built and become comfortable with openness and transparency is one of the scariest things I have ever done, but knowing that I have been able to overcome each fall by embracing and learning from each situation were signs of growth.

That growth has been tested daily since the start of this pandemic. Not only have I had to call on existing tools to preserve the progress that I’ve made, but I have also been pushed to develop new tools to help overcome the challenges that have risen over the past seven weeks. The biggest question that needed to be addressed: What if I can’t handle this anymore? Will that mean that all the progress I’ve made over the past year will have been for nothing?

In an attempt to calm my anxious mind, I have been able to uncover one of the most important tools: reflection. Now is the time to reflect on just how far I’ve come and to start actively developing a routine that utilizes each of the tools I have learned over the past year. While everyone is different and deals with their journeys of self-discovery and mental health differently, these are some tools that have helped me when I’ve recognized it’s time for action.

1. Read

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By reading an hour before bed, I am able to give my mind an opportunity to escape our crazy pandemic reality and to start exploring new techniques to facilitate growth. These are some books that have helped to provide that for me:

2. Journal

I found a journal that has “BLOOM” written across the cover. For me, this serves as a reminder that the “blooming” process takes time, and that the environment I create will determine whether I will wilt or bloom. I don’t journal every day because a strict regimen in regard to self-expression creates a toxic perfectionist monster in my mind. Instead, I use this tool when I need a place to vent, to remind myself that I am strong, but that I don’t need to have everything figured out right now.

3. Exercise

Today, not only is fitness my career, but it has also become a physical representation of growth and success. I have a personal trainer. He and the rest of the Red Dot Fitness community have helped me uncover strength that I didn’t realize I had. By having a place where I can be surrounded by inspiring and passionate individuals, I always walked out of there feeling renewed.

During these weeks of quarantine, they have still been able to provide this sense of revival for me through live workouts and personal training sessions. They have been able to provide a sense of community even during this time of social distancing.

4. Meditate

In the past, I had tried to implement meditation into my routine, but it never worked because my approach to meditation was all wrong. The idea of being and remaining present is difficult for a naturally anxious perfectionist like me, but the guided meditations from Headspace have taught me that it is natural for the mind to go off track. Actively navigating my thoughts and emotions, when times get hard, is something I never thought I had the strength to do.

Every tool in my toolbox may seem quite simple, but what makes them highly effective is that I’ve discovered how and why they give me strength. I’ve allowed myself to gain a better sense of self-compassion, a working understanding of the importance of communication, and the power that arises when you take the time to slow down and breathe—and it’s hard to believe that it all started with one simple question of how am I really doing?

Recognizing your mental state, and then healing, doesn’t happen overnight; it is an ever-growing process. I hope that by sharing in my story you might allow others some room to breathe and practice being kind to yourself–especially during these trying times. While I may be celebrating one year of healing this month, practicing and respecting your mental health is a lifelong commitment, and I will forever be walking that journey alongside you.

 

Explore the Reiki Precepts for a Flourishing Mind

By Parita Shah, Reiki Practitioner and Energy Healer

Dr. Usui’s Reiki philosophy is simple and realistic, and includes the Precepts, or kotodamas, which invoke the energy of words. Here’s why the Precepts are relevant today and how you can bring them into your life.

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Dr. Usui founded the system of Reiki in 1922, after seeking to share mind and body wellness. The system is founded on five foundational premises:

  • Hands-on-healing
  • Meditation
  • Attunements
  • Mantras and symbols
  • Practicing mindfulness through the Reiki Precepts

Although Reiki is often known as the magical channeling of energy through hands, it is seldomly known for its practical philosophy. The Precepts of Reiki are kotodamas, or sacred words that carry energy. It is said that by repeating the Precepts, you not only create intentions, but you invoke the spirit of those words.

The Precepts of Reiki

The following are the Precepts of Reiki.

  • Just for today, I will not worry.
  • Just for today, I will not be angry.
  • Just for today, I will be grateful.
  • Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
  • Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.

Whether you practice Reiki or not, the Precepts offer simple teachings that can guide your day. By reciting them in meditation, or contemplating their meaning, you can ground the mind, align with higher frequencies, and live with more meaning.

Here are some ways in which the Precepts can transform your mind away from anxiety, boredom, or worry.

Helps You Stay Present

The phrase “Just for today” reminds you to take each challenge one day, or even one moment, at a time. It suggests that you release the guilt, fear, and anger around the past and future so that you can truly experience what is right in front of you. Staying in the moment allows you to fully process life as it’s happening. You also begin to reap the gratitude, fulfillment, and joy of today, without wishing for better.

Anchors the Mind

The Precepts give your mind a framework to work with. It creates boundaries that guide you in managing your projections. As you recite the Precepts, they remind you of the ways in which you are blocking your own peace. They help you take inventory of the thoughts and feelings that weigh you down so that you begin to release them. The Precepts don’t place harsh expectations of forever transcending your worries, anger, and fear, but rather suggest that you momentarily restore the mind. This makes the Precepts approachable and pragmatic for the 21st century.

Experience Transcendence

The Reiki Principles, also known as gokai, help you shift from lower vibrational emotions, which cause stagnation and disease, to higher vibrational emotions. They remind you of the choice you have in releasing the old. You are not bound to the emotions that you experience but rather can shift your lens. While contemplating how things can be better, you can also be grateful. While acknowledging the hurts of the past, you may also choose to release the worry and anger.

Live with Intentionality

You create guiding posts for your beliefs, feelings, and actions as you recite the Precepts. They steer your day and the way you interact with the world. As you engage with Reiki philosophy, you commit yourself to live from a balanced mind and heart. Although you may not always be free of worry and anger, and hold compassion, diligence, and gratitude, you may notice that you are living with more purpose.

How to Bring the Reiki Precepts into Everyday

The purpose of the Precepts is not to invalidate the feelings that you’re experiencing, nor is it to bypass the challenges that are arising for you. Their purpose is to help you experience peace in the midst of chaos.

Here are some ways to bring the Reiki Precepts into your self-care routine:

  1. Check-In with Your Mind and Heart Several Times throughout the Day

Ask yourself, “Am I in the present moment? How am I feeling?” It’s important to remain nonjudgmental and compassionate with yourself as you practice this exercise. There is no right or wrong way of feeling. The goal is not to always feel positive but rather to become aware of what you’re feeling.

  1. Start the Day by Reciting the Reiki Precepts

You may print the Reiki Precepts, and repeat them in English or Japanese. Allow yourself to feel the vibration of the words. Notice if they impact your breath, or body in any way. You may feel your breath deepen, muscles and joints relax, or heart soften.

  1. Contemplate the Meaning of One Precept at a Time

For example, you may take one week to seek the meaning of “Just for today, I will do my work honestly.” Ask yourself, “How can I be more diligent? Am I speaking my truth? Do I live in my authenticity? What areas of my life need transparency?”

When working with any philosophy, it’s essential that you develop your own meaning and relationship with what’s passed down to you. This will make engaging with the Precepts more personable.

  1. Make Your Actions Mirror Your New Beliefs

You can make your practice tangible by gifting a compliment or putting away work when the ego tells you that you have more to accomplish. Endless actions throughout the day can demonstrate compassion, gratitude, surrender, forgiveness, and honesty.

You may have an authentic and vulnerable conversation that you’ve been putting off. You may give your body the attention and love that it needs by taking a nap. Allow your actions to mirror the new beliefs that you’re establishing.

When the Precepts are practiced daily, in both seemingly significant and insignificant ways, you build your ability to release anger and worry. Your ability to exercise gratitude, authenticity, and kindness will strengthen as you check in with your mind and heart, recite the Precepts, contemplate their meaning, and let them influence your patterns. Dr. Usui’s Reiki philosophy is simple and realistic enough to direct your mindset and behavior.

 

A Soak and Massage Ritual to Calm the Mind, Body, and Spirit

By Jessa Blades, Celebrity makeup artist, Herbalist, and Wellness expert 

In times of stress and unknown, don’t underestimate the transformative power of a soak and self-massage. Try this self-care practice to connect back to nature and create inner calm.

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As a natural beauty and wellness expert working mostly with clients in New York City, I knew before the coronavirus (COVID-19) hit that my clients were already living with a high level of stress. Now, in the midst of this new experience, with confusion and uncertainty all around us, we are collectively experiencing a new and unprecedented level of stress.

While all of this is true, it is also a time for you to take care of yourself in profound ways. And just as importantly, the reality is that this is not the time to run out and order everything to make it the “perfect” experience, with the perfect products or tools; it is a time to use what you have, get creative, and, above all else, find ways to nurture yourself.

Connect to Nature

When caring for ourselves, both the natural world and our own senses, offer ways to feel supported. Despite being inside every day, in many ways, there are signs of how connected you are with nature. In my own life, my mother reports how clean the air is now in Philadelphia.

Connecting to nature may feel like a stretch since you are technically inside, but you can reach toward the elements (and engage with your senses) as a first step. For this ritual, you are going to focus on the element of water and the sense of touch. Water therapy has been used for a long time due to its transformative power to heal the body and mind, help move blood and lymph, support digestion, calm muscles, improve sleep, and relax the nervous system. You can add massage and working with warm oil and marma points to help your body naturally heal, relieve body and mind tension, improve circulation, and help restore a deeper quality of sleep.

This self-care practice is broken down into five steps: identifying your vessel, collecting goodies for your vessel, soaking, preparing your oil, and finally doing the massage. Yes, you can just do the soak or massage only, but it is recommended you do both to enjoy the full power and relaxation of the process in its entirety. Be sure to get all of the steps ready before you begin to soak. You can boil the water after your soak, but have it ready to go before you get in the water.

1. Identify Your Vessel

Identify where you will be soaking. It can be a bathtub, a big bowl that fits your feet, a big pot, or two small bowls/Tupperware—one for each foot.

Any choice of soaking vessel is right (don’t judge it!), and some of you might need to do this while you are working from home or homeschooling, so just know that putting a pasta pot under the kitchen table and soaking your feet is perfect.

2. Collect Your Goodies

Next up, collect the goodies you will add to the water. Supplies might be limited now, so here are some ideas to inspire a more nourishing and special soak experience. And please know that even if all you have is just one tea bag to add to your bath, that is just right.

  • Essential oils
  • Crystals
  • Flowers or foraged pine needles from a walk outside
  • Epsom salt and baking soda (2 cups of Epsom salt and 1 cup baking soda in a bath, or 1 cup Epsom sale and 1/2 cup baking soda in a pot)
  • 1-2 cups of milk, fresh or powdered
  • 10-12 drops of calming essential oils (be sure not to add them directly into your tub; add the oils to some milkor to your Epsom salts or a bit of olive oil, before you add to your bath—this is so you don’t irritate or burn your skin)
  • Orange or lemon peels
  • 2-5 tea bags (e.g., lavender, chamomile, kava; just have sleepytime tea? Throw it in!)

3. Soak

There is no wrong way to soak. You can get in the tub or the pot and do a breathing meditation, listen to music, watch tv, eat your dinner—just get in the water, add your goodies, and try to stay submerged for at least 20 minutes. When you are done, pat yourself dry, and then go and boil some water.

4. Prepare the Oil

Depending on what you have in the pantry, take a half cup of one of the following:

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Sesame oil
  • An already medicated massage oil

Once you select your oil, do the following:

  • Put the oil in a metal bowl or cup.
  • Take your boiled water and add it to another bowl.
  • Add the metal bowl to rest in the boiled water bowl. You are trying to warm the oil slowly instead of burning it by directly heating it on the stovetop.
  • Grab an old towel or rag (in case you spill or need to wipe your hands) and a pair of cozy socks.

5. Massage

For the massage that will follow the soak, you are going to focus on a warm oil massage for the feet (self-abhyanga), an easy-to-reach part of the body that is full of marma points—the vital points where the force of life (Prana) lives. Maybe you are familiar with reflexology or marma points, or you just have feet and know that it feels good to massage them.

Two points that you are going to focus on are Talahridaya Marma and Kshipra MarmaTalahridaya Marma is located in the middle of the sole of the foot and in a straight line drawn from the root (or the crease) of the middle toe. Kshipra Marma is located between the second and the big toe.

To start the foot massage, do the following:

  • Start by coating your hands in the warm oil and massaging the right foot, followed by the left foot.
  • Massage theTalahridaya Marma and the Kshipra Marma points with gentle massage strokes, then hold each point for 20 to 60 seconds.
  • Follow by massaging each of your toes including the joints, starting with the big toe and ending with the baby toe.
  • Now go over the whole foot, and don’t forget the heel.
  • Once you are done with both feet, put on your cozy socks. Take a deep breath and remind your body that it can relax. Now you are done, feeling more grounded and nourished than before.

Whether you have an amazing bathtub or just a pasta pot, this is a practice that you can start today. Remember, the power of soaking and touch cannot be underestimated.

 

 

 

 

May

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Hello everyone, as we’re still adjusting to the isolated lifestyle, as we have for almost two months now due to COVID-19, let’s not forget that this is the perfect time to work on ourselves. We have a special seed of opportunity to develop our skills even more, so to move faster on the path of our life’s purpose. Many times, this point of view can be difficult to embrace in the midst of what appears to be a setback, as this global pandemic is, but now is the time to do more for your personal growth.

Enjoy the articles below.

Namaste!

10 Foods That Help Boost Your Immunity to Fight COVID-19

By Erin Easterly, Ayurvedic Therapist and Educator, and Yoga Teacher

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While adequate sleep, movement, and coping strategies lay the foundation for strong immunity, nutrition arguably plays the biggest role in decreasing susceptibility to infectious disease

Businesses have shut their doors, students have moved to virtual education, and medical facilities have ramped up their staff. Yet, one piece of the pandemic puzzle that is notably absent from the public conversation is how to bolster immune function so that your body can effectively fight off COVID-19, should you be exposed.

Each time you eat, the body is flooded with substances that either increase or degrade the immune response. By removing foods that deplete immune system resources (e.g., sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates) while simultaneously incorporating ones that shore up immune defenses, the body’s white blood cells receive the nourishment that they need to promote optimal immune system function.

The following is a list of 10 immune-boosting foods that radically escalate the immune system’s ability to destroy pathogens. In combination with good hygiene, these foods can bolster your immune system’s ability to maintain health.

  1. Broccoli Sprouts

Packed with powerful antioxidant properties and other nutrients, broccoli sprouts are optimal for boosting immune health. Broccoli sprouts contain extremely high levels of sulforaphane, which not only has impressive anti-carcinogenic capabilities, but can fight off a common infection, detoxify environmental chemicals, combat autoimmune diseases, and even protect your brain after serious injury. Sulforaphane has been found to influence the epigenetic layer of certain parts of DNA that influence a number of disease-fighting functions.

In one human study, individuals living in a congested area infamous for its toxic air found that ingesting broccoli sprouts resulted in excretion of far larger quantities of airborne chemicals than a control group.

  1. Matcha Green Tea

Matcha green tea is loaded with powerful plant-based antioxidants known as polyphenols. Studies suggest that a particular type of polyphenol found in matcha green tea, called catechins, may kill influenza (flu) viruses. One researcher summed up matcha tea’s superhero powers as follows, “GTCs [Green tea catechins] have been reported to provide various health benefits against numerous diseases. Studies have shown that GTCs, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), have antiviral effects against diverse viruses.”

To ensure that your matcha tea is free from heavy metals, always purchase tea leaves grown in Japan, where soil quality is controlled.

  1. Garlic

Throughout history, garlic has been used to prevent and treat various diseases. Recently, garlic has made a bit of a comeback as research has elucidated its antiviral, anti-microbial, and anti-tumor capabilities.

One study evaluated garlic’s effectiveness in treating a strain of coronavirus known as infectious bronchitis virus (IBV). It was found that garlic had inhibitory effects on IBV. Other studies found that garlic reduces the risk of becoming sick, as well as how long you stay sick. It can also reduce the severity of symptoms.

The way garlic is prepared can alter its health benefits. The enzyme alliinase, which converts alliin into the beneficial allicin (the main active component in garlic), only works when not deactivated by heat.

  1. Ginger

Ginger is a great way to boost your body’s immune response and is commonly used to increase gut health, prevent the common cold, and reduce inflammation. Fresh ginger also contains a medicinal component known as gingerol that is known to inhibit viral activity in the human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). It is worth noting that the active components of ginger may work symbiotically with other components in the whole food source to exert their positive effects.

  1. Olive Leaf

While you might not find an olive leaf in your pantry, it is readily available via herbal supplementation. The leaves of olive trees (Olea europea) contain substances called elenoic acid and calcium elonate that have been identified as powerful inhibitors of a wide range of viruses including influenza, herpes, polio, and coxsackie viruses. These substances block the production of enzymes that allow viruses to replicate, which is why an olive leaf is great for its immunity-boosting properties.

  1. Propolis

Propolis is a compound produced by bees from the sap on evergreen trees. It has been used for centuries to fight infections and aid in a plethora of healing processes. Current research suggests that propolis may also possess antiviral properties. Propolis can be eaten as a whole food but is most often found as a capsule or tincture supplement.

  1. Reishi Mushrooms

Ancient manuscript as far back as 25 CE describes the use of reishi mushrooms (sometimes referred to by the Chinese name Lingzhi) as potent medicinal tools. In the Chinese history book, Hanshu, reishi is referred to as the “Mushroom of Immortality.”

Modern research reveals that reishi mushrooms may kill cancer cells, boost immune function, and inhibit bacterial as well as viral growth. Researchers have suggested that reishi mushrooms have, “positive health benefits, including anticancer effects; blood glucose regulation; antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral effects.” Reishi mushrooms are too chewy to be eaten raw so they are best consumed in tea or powdered form.

  1. Berries

High in vitamin C, berries are full of bioactive compounds, known as polyphenols, that neutralize harmful free radicals, bacteria, and viruses. In a 2017 review in the Journal of Functional Foods, “Research indicates that components of berry fruits may inhibit replication of [viruses] both directly and indirectly, e.g. by blocking surface glycoproteins of influenza virus and stimulating the immune system of the organism.”

A specific class of polyphenol, anthocyanins, have been touted as a “valuable resource of antiviral substances.” Topping the list of high anthocyanin berries are blackberries, raspberries, and wild blueberries. Frozen berries retain their anthocyanin values for up to three months so these are a viable choice.

  1. Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Pepitas contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals (vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin E, zinc) known to support immune health. In addition to minerals, these mighty seeds are also packed with cell-protective antioxidants. The lignans in pumpkin seeds (including pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol) have also been shown to have antimicrobial, and especially anti-viral, properties. To maintain potency, pepitas should be eaten raw.

  1. Coconut Oil

Now is the time for you to swap your olive oil for coconut oil, as this is one of the best foods for the immune system. In a formal statement published by Ateneo de Manila University (the Philippines), Dr. Fabian Dayrit from the university and Dr. Mary Newport of Spring Hill Neonatolody (U.S.) proposed the efficacy of coconut oil as a potential agent in the fight against COVID-19. They explained that coconut oil, and more specifically the lauric acid within it, causes disintegration of the virus envelope; inhibits the replication of virus cells; and prevents the virus from binding to the host agent. Though clinical trials have yet to take place, the takeaway message is that coconut oil can act as a powerful ally in protecting your body from viruses, including COVID-19.

Now that we have listed some of the best foods for the immune system, you can begin integrating them into your diet each day. Through this, you provide yourself with the boost that you need to fight infections and keep your body functioning at optimal capacity. Incorporating immune-boosting foods rich in vitamin C, nutrients, and healthy fats will keep you healthy and support your blood cells in protecting your immune system. Together with good hygiene and social distancing practices, these immune-boosting foods are simply good medicine.

 

5 Simple Yoga Poses to Do with Kids

By Lena Schmidt, Certified Yoga Instructor

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Home with the kids? Looking for a fun and invigorating—yet consciously calming—activity to do with them? Yoga is the ticket!

Yoga is a holistic approach to health and well-being and includes physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation practices, and concentration exercises. Yoga poses can be stimulating, grounding, energizing, and relaxing. Due to its nature of intentionally connecting the body, mind, and spirit, yoga is well suited for children and adults of all ages.

To practice yoga with kids, clear an area for physical movement. Yoga can be practiced on the carpet, on the floor, on yoga mats, on towels, outside on the grass, or even on the beach. Get creative with how you will use your space. If necessary and possible, move any breakable items and clear away clutter.

Keep the following tips in mind when preparing for a yoga practice with kids.

Be Dynamic

One of the best ways to keep kids’ attention during a yoga session is to vary the types of movements and shapes they make with their bodies and the speed at which they do them. This is especially important to remember for yoga with younger children. For example, their yoga practice might start with poses close to the ground but then invite them to quickly get up for standing poses. Their yoga practice might include a hopping, flapping Flying Bird Pose instead of a long-held static Eagle Pose. For a dynamic practice, encourage movement and exploration within the boundaries of the poses.

Be Creative

Allow and encourage movements that may seem silly, wild, or “not real yoga.” Many yoga poses are well suited for free expression. Instead of worrying about alignment or correctness, invite ideas and fresh perspectives from the young practitioners. Let your own beginner’s mind be tickled by the creativity cultivated.

Start Loud

Sometimes yoga poses, especially those based on animals, call for making sounds—and that can be loud. Consider modeling and encouraging noises for animal poses such as Lion’s Breath, Cow, Cat, Downward Facing Dog, Frog, Dolphin, and Pigeon. You may be surprised how much kids know about the sounds animals make! Similarly, normalizing body sounds (such as stomping, cracking and popping, farting, yawning, grunting, and squeaky feet on the floor) can help build confidence and self-esteem.

If your intention is to get out energy, let the entire practice be loud. If your intention is to calm the body and quiet restlessness, as you wind down your practice, even if it started out noisy, encourage whispers and quiet voices to support relaxation.

Try the following poses individually or strung together as a short sequence. Practice these poses with the children in your life or help them create a yoga routine for themselves. Put on some mellow music. Invite the kids to be involved with choosing some sacred items to go on an altar. Invite the kids to help with the arrangement of the space. These poses are designed for children ages three years to 10 years old and can be modified to be practiced in a chair, a wheelchair, or lying in a bed. The optional guiding questions are designed to be asked during the poses to maintain attention or after the poses for reflection.

1. Butterfly Pose

How to Do It

  • Sit on the floor.
  • Bring the bottoms of your feet together to touch. Let your knees open out wide like big, beautiful butterfly wings. Your legs could be resting andstretching or your knees could flap like wings. Your arms can move like wings, too, or massage your feet. Sit up tall or fold your head forward toward your feet.
  • Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like.
  • When you are finished flying, give your knees a big hug.

Guiding Questions 

  • Where would you like to fly today?
  • What colors are your wings?
  • If you could fly to visit anyone, who would you like to visit?
  • If your nose is near your toes, do you have stinky feet?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you stretch or feel relaxed?

2. Tree Pose

How to Do It 

  • Stand on one foot and find your balance. Your feet are your tree roots.
  • Bring your other foot onto your ankle, calf, or upper leg and push. Stand up as tall as you can. Reach your arms like tree branches into the air and reach for the sun. Remember that trees bend and sway with the wind so don’t worry if you are wobbly!
  • Try your Tree Pose on the other foot. Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like.
  • When you are finished balancing, stand on both feet and be still for three breaths.

Guiding Questions 

  • What kind of tree are you today?
  • What color are your leaves?
  • Where are you growing?
  • What animals live near you or in you?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you stretch or get stronger?

3. Airplane Pose

How to Do It 

  • Rest on your belly and stretch your arms and legs out long. When you are ready for take-off, lift your arms, legs, and head up as high as you can. You are flying!
  • Move your arms and legs as you fly through the clouds and be still as you cruise.
  • Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like.
  • When you are finished flying, flop onto your belly and turn your head to one side as if you are sleeping. Be still for five breaths.

Guiding Questions 

  • Where would you like to fly today?
  • If you could fly to visit anyone, who would you like to visit?
  • How long do you think it will take to fly there?
  • What kinds of snacks should we pack for the trip?
  • What else do we need to remember to pack?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you stretch or get stronger?

4. Seed Pose

How to Do It 

  • Come to your hands and knees and sit back toward your heels.
  • Bring your big toes together and your knees together and curl up into a tiny little ball. Your arms could stretch forward or backward.
  • Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like.
  • When you are finished germinating, begin to sprout and—slowly—start to roll up to sitting or standing. This pose is also called Child’s Pose, a pose named for kids who do yoga just like you!

Guiding Questions 

  • What kind of sprout will you grow into when you are watered and tended?
  • How long will it take you to grow?
  • Where are you planted?
  • Who planted you?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you stretch or feel relaxed?

5. Sleeping Pose

How to Do It 

  • Rest on your back or your side as if you are sleeping. You can close your eyes or just keep them half-open. Remember this is only pretend sleep, but if you do start to feel sleepy, it’s okay to take a nap.
  • Let your body rest. Breathe in and out for as long as you’d like. If you have time, put on some deeply mellow music, like wind chimes, singing bowls, or bells to assist in relaxation during sleeping pose.
  • When you are finished sleeping, stretch and yawn like you are waking up in the morning and roll yourself up to sitting or standing.

Guiding Questions 

  • What are you dreaming about?
  • Where is the most comfortable and cozy place to sleep?
  • Where in your body do you feel this pose helping you rest or feel relaxed?

If you are a regular yoga practitioner, yoga with kids may look, sound, and feel different than your adult yoga class or sadhana, but enjoy the variety in your practice and enjoy this time together. Namaste!

 

Hug it Out! How and Why to Connect with Your Pets During Social Distancing

By Lena Schmidt, Certified Yoga Instructor

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Social distancing during coronavirus doesn’t mean you can’t play, snuggle, and chat with your pet. You and your pets will benefit greatly from your intentional attention.

Pets add so much to your life on a daily basis. Now, more than ever, they can help you combat the serious loneliness, depression, and isolation that potentially comes along with this pandemic. Dogs, cats, hamsters, rats, lizards, fish, turtles, snakes, insects, birds—whatever your choice—all make great companions. Connecting with nonhuman life at a time when everyone is encouraged to stay home and avoid contact is vital. Caring for, cleaning up after, and feeding pets can be a lot of work, it’s true. But they are also excellent sources of great joy and deep love.

Although it’s not a good idea to allow strangers to pet or touch your animals, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has not been shown to be passed on through contact with pets. It is always recommended, however, to wash your hands before and after you play with your pet. If you don’t have a pet of your own, take a walk through your neighborhood (if that’s currently permitted) and notice what animals you see and hear. If you’re stuck inside without a pet, check out the live cameras at some of the world’s most famous animal attractions like the San Diego Zoo and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Here’s why it’s helpful to connect with your pets during social distancing:

They Are Good Listeners

Animals might just be the best listeners. If you are feeling lonely or craving community, turn to your sweet nonhuman friend and share your heart. Animals can help you heal and remind you how to be effective communicators: they often maintain eye contact, they don’t talk back or give unsolicited advice, and unless you’ve trained your pet bird to speak, your secrets will be safe with them!

It Helps Them Too

Animals pick up on your energy. If you have been feeling panicked, weary, or sad lately, your beloved pet probably knows. They can tell when something is off. By soothing them with words, gentle touch, and attention, you will be comforting each other.

They Are a Good Distraction

Your pets can help you get off the phone/computer. Animals can remind you to stay in the here-and-now since they are very present-moment oriented. Take at least two minutes every hour to connect with your animal and your brain and body will enjoy a nice reboot.

Here are some ways to connect with your animals during this time (and anytime really!). Though most of these ideas are shared with our four-legged friends in mind, we encourage you to creatively adapt them in ways that make sense for your particular pet.

Play

Though not all animals play (do sea anemones play?), many do. You can wrestle or play fetch with your doggy, throw a toy for your kitty, or trace your finger on the fishbowl for the fish to follow. Play, for children, adults, and animals alike, is a cognitively rich experience that has intellectual, social, emotional, and physical benefits. Tug-of-war never sounded so good!

Snuggle

If you’ve been feeling the lack of connection and touch lately, your pet can be a beautiful placeholder until people can safely hug each other again. Give an extra-long, behind-the-ears scratch to your pup; give your kitten some full-body, purr-inducing strokes; let your hamster climb over your arms; or enjoy a full-on embrace if your animal is amenable. Breathe in sync with your animal as you connect and you’ll both feel the relaxing effects.

Go for a Walk

Your pet may be your only reason to get outside sometimes. Let them be that reminder for you to get fresh air, get off the internet, and remember the wide world. Instead of lamenting the daily task of taking the dog out for that morning stroll, however cold or tiresome, could you allow that to be sacred time? Maybe it’s an activity that the whole family can enjoy together or maybe it’s your 20 minutes of alone time. As you walk the dog, wave to your neighbors (from six feet away, please). Sniff big gulps of air when your dog stops to sniff and cherish this time outdoors. Exercise and fresh air are both mood boosters, so make sure to thank your pet for the opportunity to step outside with a special treat when you get back home.

Cook and Craft for Your Animal

If you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, get creative! You could bake biscuits for your dogsew a satchel full of catnip for your kittymake birdseed cones from scratch, or draw out and redesign your animal’s playpen or cage. Do some research and find out what your animal might most safely enjoy as a snack or a toy and make it into a craft day.

It is often said that your pets are your best friends; though you are prohibited from hanging out with your human best friends for safety purposes, you can make the most of this time, and increase your feelings of well-being, by connecting intentionally with your animal best friends.

 

Summer Rolls

A healthy, easy spring roll appetizer that’s just as fun to make as it is to eat!

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Turn an easy appetizer or dinner into a fun family activity with this summer rolls recipe — it’s a blast to make and even more enjoyable to eat! This Vietnamese restaurant staple is easy to make at home with store-bought rice paper wrappers, your favorite veggies, and an addictive dipping sauce.

Stuffed with a ton of fresh vegetables like baby greens, cucumbers, and blanched green beans, our summer rolls recipe is as healthy as it is heavenly. Slices of creamy avocado balance out all that crunch, while sliced scallion and mint provide fragrant freshness. Pineapple is an unexpected addition that adds the perfect touch of sweetness.

This easy appetizer is vegetarian, but you can add cooked shrimp, ground pork, or chicken to the filling if you’d like. Or, use roasted tofu cut into matchsticks to keep this recipe vegan. Feel free to mix-and-match the filling based on what you like, but a truly rockin’ homemade summer roll should have something leafy and green, something sharp and aromatic, a little (or a lot!) of crunch, and plenty of fresh herbs. Plus — a delectable dipping sauce that keeps you coming back for more … and more.

Summer rolls also make for an easy, adaptable, healthy snack or light dinner. Set them out as an appetizer next time you have people over — just don’t expect them to last very long.

How do you assemble a summer roll?

Wrapping a good summer roll takes practice, but our streamlined technique makes it easier. Here’s how it’s done: Start by dipping your rice paper in a little warm water, just until it’s pliable. Place it onto a work surface and arrange some of the filling in the center. Fold the two shorter sides of the rice paper over the filling first, then fold in the bottom, longer side and roll to seal. See? You’re a pro!

What do you serve with a summer roll?

A summer roll should always be served with a dipping sauce — it’s (probably) the law. Ours combines tangy lime juice with sweet-sour rice vinegar and soy sauce for a delicious, zesty dunker that perks up the crunchy vegetable appetizer. Bonus: use up leftover sauce in stir-fried veggies and rice, tossed into noodles, or as a flavor booster in a soup or broth.

A plate of colorful, expertly-wrapped summer rolls and a bowl of dipping sauce is a great way to get a party — or a simple weeknight dinner — started. Ready to rock n’ (summer) roll?

Ingredients

For dipping sauce:

1 1/2 tbsp.

lime juice

1 tbsp.

rice vinegar

1 1/2 tsp.

low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp.

water

1

scallion, green part only, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp.

maple syrup

1/4 tsp.

red pepper flakes

For rolls:

8

rice paper (spring roll) wrappers

1 1/2 c.

baby greens (we used pac choi)

1

ripe avocado, sliced

1

scallion, cut into 4-in. matchsticks

1/4

pineapple, peeled and cut into 4-in. matchsticks

1/2

English cucumber, cut into 4-in. matchsticks

4 oz.

green beans, trimmed and blanched

1/4 c.

fresh mint leaves

1/2 c.

pea shoots (about 1 oz)

Directions:

  1. Make the sauce: In bowl, whisk together all ingredients.
  2. Assemble rolls: Fill pie plate or large bowl with warm water. Working quickly with one rice paper wrapper at a time, submerge in warm water until pliable, about 20 sec. Place on cutting board and arrange some of each filling ingredient in center.
  3. Fold wrapper sides in to seal, then fold base over filling and roll up to seal, being careful not to tear wrapper. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Cut each roll in half and serve with dipping sauce.

 

 

April

Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 3.30.03 PM

Hi Everyone,

the past few weeks have seen an unprecedented increase in mental tension, anxiety, and fear spanning the globe. With the COVID-19 virus reaching pandemic proportions and new cases being reported each day, this is a crisis unlike anything most people have experienced in their lifetime. Times like this can indeed feel overwhelming. Fortunately, however, one classic mind-body practice is unparalleled in its value during crises such as these: meditation.

Please enjoy the articles below.

Namaste!

The Numerous Benefits of Meditation

Sevina AltanovaClinical Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master,  Yoga & Meditation Teacher,  HIIT Personal Trainer.

Sevina picture

  1. Reduces Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress. Meditation can also reduce symptoms in people with stress-triggered medical conditions.

  1. Controls Anxiety

Habitual meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

  1. Promotes Emotional Health

Some forms of meditation can improve depression and create a more positive outlook on life.

  1. Enhances Self-Awareness

Self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help you “know yourself.” This can be a starting point for making other positive changes.

  1. Lengthens Attention Span

Several types of meditation may build your ability to redirect and maintain attention. As little as four days of meditation may have an effect.

  1. May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss

The improved focus you can gain through regular meditation may increase memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.

  1. Can Generate Kindness

Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a practice of developing positive feelings, first toward yourself and then toward others. Metta increases positivity, empathy and compassionate behavior toward others.

  1. May Help Fight Addictions

Meditation develops mental discipline and willpower and can help you avoid triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help you recover from addiction, lose weight and redirect other unwanted habits.

  1. Improves Sleep

A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control the “runaway” thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.

  1. Helps Control Pain

Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used as a supplement to medical care or physical therapy.

  1. Can Decrease Blood Pressure

Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation, but also over time in individuals who meditate regularly. This can reduce strain on the heart and arteries, helping prevent heart disease.

Order your Meditation/Relaxation products by clicking on this link:

https://stressmanagementresources.com/shop/

“Anxiety Relieve” Relaxation/Meditation

“Overcoming Panic Attack” Relaxation/Meditation

“Clearing Chakras” Relaxation/Meditation

“Gamma Light/Sound” Relaxation/Meditation

There is a FREE meditation for you to enjoy as well!

Namaste!

http://www.StressManagementResources.com

 

Comfort in the Darkness: How Sleep Will Help Us the Most Right Now

 

woman sleeping

 

In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Hamlet the character begins a soliloquy, asking himself, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” He is contemplating life vs. death, pondering mortality and the meaning of life. He speaks of dreams, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…” Yet, while Shakespeare, through Hamlet, dove into the very heart of human existence and the deepest quandaries of life, they predated the scientific confirmation that without sleep we do die. To be or not to be is integrally entwined with sleep.

In our modern, 24/7-paced world, another life quandary beckons our attention. We rarely ask, “To do or not to do.” Suddenly, you are being forced to confront this question. Heretofore, your modus operandi has been to constantly do, and do, and do, and do until exhaustion overwhelms you. The global COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented impact is forcing us not to do: Not to go to crowded events, albeit now canceled. Not to go to your workplace. Not to go to school. Not to travel. And the not list goes on. In these cases, you have no choice but to comply. In others, you must choose carefully about where to go and what you do. Yet with fewer places to go and things to do, when so many are working from home and saving time with commuting, this is an excellent opportunity to attend to things that were not getting your proper attention.

Enter sleep. A nonnegotiable construct that remains a constant, now and always. Before this coronavirus outbreak, insufficient sleep was already a global epidemic. Now, as your daily life patterns are greatly disrupted and shifting drastically, and for an unknown duration, you are presented with a choice: Prioritize sleep or not. You can let the stresses and strains and schedule alterations make sleep all the more of a challenge, or you can use these unusual times to focus on your sleep and shift habits that compromise your sleep quality and quantity. This may not be easy, especially during such stressful times with so many unknowns on the horizon, but opportunity and necessity beckon for you to do less, but not to sleep less than you need—and for adults, 7 to 9 hours are recommended.

So, amidst the challenges you are facing, here are some specific tips to make surrendering to slumber doable:

  • Set a consistent sleep and wake time seven days a week. In the midst of so much change, your body clock, your circadian rhythm, will appreciate a set schedule so it can support your immune system, all the more important as the world is exposed to COVID-19.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine that begins an hour before going to sleep. Features may include tuning out from technology including your cell phone, taking a shower or bath, reading a physical book with a dim light, journaling to take thoughts out of your head and on to paper, having a calm conversation with a family member at home, and/or practicing mindfulness, meditation, or a prayer practice.
  • If you suspect you have a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea, seek a diagnosis from your physician or a sleep specialist. In these unprecedented times, you may be experiencing symptoms of short-term insomnia.

And in a way, a good night’s sleep begins in the morning. Here are some tips for your waking hours to set the stage for a peaceful transition to sleep at night:

  • Start your day by making your bed. This is a task completed and it is lovely to return to a neat bed at night.
  • Without as much doing, focus on being by engaging in self-care and convening with nature, be it on a walk or just sitting outside looking at a tree. If you cannot go outside, then sit at the window and look at the sky. I mean, really look at the sky.
  • Practice meditation, mindfulness, or a breathing technique daily.
  • Relax and read a book or talk with a family member or friend.
  • Don’t rush. Be present in the moment.
  • Exercise at home. Take a walk or run outside.
  • Cook for yourself, your family, or an elderly neighbor.
  • Organize and clean that closet you’ve been intending to sort through. Give to others what you no longer need. Lighten up.
  • Get back to basics and be conscious of what makes you feel relaxed and happy.
  • And for some, attachment to the news has become overwhelming, both as a time drain and an anxiety trigger. So, create boundaries around how much news you are exposed to. Be sure to tune out at least a few hours before bedtime so you can transition to sleep in peace, setting the stage for a night of restoration and rejuvenation.

We all hope to be and stay well. We are all experiencing changes in our to-do list, evaluating necessities and choices. We are all required to sleep. Sleep is a gateway to support your immune system, especially during this global COVID-19 pandemic. Sleep is also a natural blessing for the restoration of your body, mind, and spirit. Wishing you sweet dreams.

Building a Six-Taste Bowl with Sahara Rose

Even though we are on quarantine, it doesn’t mean we have to stop eating healthy!

mom and daughter prepping food

In fact, today it’s more important than ever before to keep our immune systems in balance! This is where my Six Taste Bowl comes in, from my book Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook.

When you consume a meal that contains the Ayurvedic six tastes, you are nourished from a cellular level. Each taste corresponds with different qualities, as well as macro and micronutrients, making you feel whole and balanced.

The reason fad diets don’t work is because they often skip out on the most essential taste—sweet—which leads you to crave unhealthy sources of sweet after meals (aka that tempting brownie at the coffee shop). By having a healthy source of sweet, like quinoa, root vegetables, or healthy fats, you won’t crave desserts afterward. Lunch is the time where your digestive fire, agni, is the highest, making it the best time to indulge in a Six Taste Bowl.

Customize your Six Taste Bowl for your primary dosha by including larger portions of the tastes that pacify it and smaller portions of the tastes that increase it. All six tastes should still be present, however. If you feel balanced, just consume the bowls as is.

  • Vatas: Include more sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Decrease bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes.
  • Pittas: Include more sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes. Decrease sour, salty, and pungent tastes.
  • Kaphas: Include more bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes. Decrease sweet, sour, and salty tastes.

(Discover your dosha with the free quiz here.)

The Basic Components

Here are the basic ingredients for the Six Taste Bowl:

  • Hearty Base: Cooked grains; roasted starchy vegetable
  • Colorful Veggies: Variety of colors; steamed, roasted, or raw
  • Plant Protein: Legumes, nuts, seeds
  • Healthy Fats: Avocado, coconut, nuts/nut cheeses, dressings made with nut butters and plant-based oils
  • Pungent Spices: Turmeric, cumin, and classical Ayurvedic spices; optional onion/garlic
  • Tasteful Garnishes: Fresh herbs and microgreens; sprinkle of sea salt; squeeze of lime

Hearty Base: Sweet

  • Quinoa
  • Starchy vegetables: sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, carrot, corn
  • Brown rice, barley, or other grain

Colorful Veggies: Bitter

  • Leafy greens: spinach, arugula, collard, kale (which are also cruciferous)
  • Cruciferous vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts
  • Other vegetables: zucchini, snow peas, bell pepper, cucumber

Plant Protein: Astringent

  • Legumes: lentils, black beans, chickpeas, adzuki beans, edamame
  • Nuts and seeds: sesame, sunflower, chia, flax seeds, walnuts, tahini

Healthy Fats: Sweet

  • Avocado, coconut
  • Nut cheeses, almonds, cashews
  • Plant-based oils: sesame, coconut, olive, avocado, grapeseed

Spices: Pungent

  • Allium vegetables: garlic, onion, leek, scallion, shallot
  • Spices: cumin, turmeric, ginger, asafetida, black pepper

Garnishes: Salty and Sour

  • Salty: sea salt, coconut aminos, sea vegetables, celery
  • Sour: lemon, lime, apple cider or coconut vinegar

Quinoa Gado-Gado Bowl

six taste bowl

Serves 2

Ingredients

For the Gado-Gado:

  • 1/2 cup red quinoa, well rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup any vegetables (e.g., zucchini, carrots, green beans, corn, sprouts, and cabbage)

For the Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup sunflower seed butter (can sub almond butter or peanut butter)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or 2 droplets monkfruit (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons water, to thin

Directions

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add quinoa. Toast quinoa for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add water, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Fluff with a fork, remove lid, and remove from heat.

Make the sunbutter sauce by adding the sunflower seed butter, tamari, maple syrup, lime juice,and optional chili garlic sauce to a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until a semi-thick but pourable sauce is formed.

To serve, divide the quinoa into two bowls, and then top with zucchini, corn, carrot, mung bean sprouts, and red cabbage. Top with sauce, cilantro, and lemon.

Find more like this in Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook by Sahara Rose Ketabi. Available in bookstores nationwide October 2, 2020.

 

March

1

 

Hi everyone! The spring is coming, which always means a new beginning!  Let’s commit to keeping ourselves in the best physical, emotional and spiritual state. There is a famous Vedic Verse:

“It is our responsibility to the rest of the mankind to be healthy. We are ripples in the ocean of consciousness; and when we are sick even a little, we distract the cosmic harmony.”

Let’s keep ourselves healthy- the articles below may help us to do it.

Namaste!

 

8 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight

By Sue Van Raes, Functional nutritionist and Food Psychology Specialist

2-1

If you want to lose weight, there are some tried-and-true strategies that will help you do so. They range from improving food choices (more protein!) to celebrating your successes.

If you are like many people, you want to start off the new year with clear goals for yourself. While there are many types of goals to consider as you begin a brand-new year, weight loss is one that many people choose to focus on.

There are many healthy ways to lose weight in the New Year. Some of them are easier, healthier, or quicker than others. Here is the dilemma: There is ample scientific evidence that fad diets don’t work. In fact, studies show that restricting your food can even create more binge-type behaviors. Take note: most fad diets rely primarily on temporary and often drastic changes in your eating patterns rather than on creating sustainable and loving habits around your health, body, and bathroom scale.

This year, instead of restricting calories, eliminating food groups, or going on the latest fad diet, try an approach that is sustainable, healthy, and scientifically sound. Keep reading and learn some fundamentals of healthy and sustainable weight loss that include, but also go beyond, what is on your plate.

  1. Replace Leftover Holiday Goodies with Healthy Options

You may have woken up on New Year’s Day gung-ho with a new diet plan—only to open the pantry to find leftover holiday cookies, candy, alcoholic beverages, and other indulgent snacks you recently served to your family and guests.

While you may think you are strong enough to stay on track in the face of your leftover holiday goodies, what you may not realize is that human willpower can be inconsistent. Your willpower changes based on a few key ingredients, including stress, sleep quality, and blood sugar.

Rather than leaving your New Year’s weight goals up to an inconsistent aspect of the human psychology, try doing a little kitchen cleanse to eliminate the temptations that can derail your healthy eating plan.

Try this:

  • Go through your cupboards and refrigerator and get rid of any refined and processed foods such as refined carbohydrates, fast food, sugary treats, and classic junk food, which have been shownto lead to weight gain.
  • Restock your kitchen with fresh, whole foods that ensure you are set up for success.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store where most whole foods, healthy produce, and higher quality ingredients are found.
  • If you are craving comfort food, try substituting more healthy ingredients for less healthy ones—such as using a natural sweetener (honey, maple syrup, or stevia) instead of refined white sugar.
  1. Boost Your Protein Intake

There is an important food group to get to know to support healthy weight loss: healthy proteinOne study found that healthy, overweight participants who ate a high-protein diet (25 percent protein) lost substantially more weight than the participants who ate a high-carbohydrate diet with only 12 percent protein.

Healthy proteins to explore include plant-based proteins, such as legumes, nuts, hemp seeds, and chia seeds. Healthy proteins can also include free-range, grass-fed, or wild proteins such as meats, fish, eggs, and organic dairy products.

Adding more protein to your plate has many benefits, including healthy weight loss and maintenancelongevity,(when the protein source is plant-based), increased satiety, and muscle growth and preservation.

Try this: 

  • Make sure that your plate includes at least 25 percent protein at each meal.
  • Choose healthy, unprocessed proteins whenever possible.
  1. Upgrade Your Carbohydrates

Do you know the difference between a refined carbohydrate and a whole carbohydrate? Refined carbohydrates are processed and have added ingredients (such as sugar and additives), whereas whole carbohydrates are unprocessed and come in the form of a whole food, such as fruits, whole grains, and starchy vegetables. Refined carbohydrates are digested by the body very quickly and are associated with obesity, weight gain, and metabolic syndrome. One study of overweight and obese men found that eating refined carbohydrates triggered food cravings many hours after consumption.

Researchers have also found that when adults ate carbohydrates in their whole form, they reported feeling greater satiation and fewer food cravings. Eating high-quality whole carbohydrates—such as brown rice, sweet potato, steel-cut oats, quinoa, or a tart apple—may help you reduce your cravings and achieve long-term, sustainable weight loss.

Try this:

  • Choose whole carbohydrates—whole grains, low-glycemic fruits, and starchy vegetables—for your carbohydrates at each meal.
  • Track your cravings and notice how they change depending on what you eat. A reduction in your cravings can helpyou make progress toward healthy weight loss.
  1. Move Your Body Daily

There are many types of movement and many exercise plans that can help you lose weight. Exploring options that span choices such as Zumba, outdoor hikes, and spin class, to yoga, Pilates, and weight training will support you in finding something enjoyable and effective.

When you choose a movement that you enjoy, you will be more likely to find yourself looking forward to it. Studies show that successful weight loss works best when you are consistent with moving your body as well as combining your regular movement with healthy eating.

Try this:

  • Love your movement: For greater inspiration and improved weight management, explore and find forms of exercise you love. For example, one study showedthat pleasurable movement improved weight loss for overweight women.
  • Schedule it: Creating consistency with your exercise routine will help you expedite your weight loss journey, as well as maintain your weight loss. A recent studyfound that participants who had lost 30 pounds or more and maintained that weight loss for over a year relied on physical activity to prevent weight regain.

 

  1. Manage Your Stress

Cortisol is your primary stress hormone. When you are in a state of chronic stress, which translates into chronically high cortisol levels, cortisol triggers the body to hold on to body weight.

While life will always present stressful moments and challenging times, you can control how you respond to stress, and this has a big impact on the damage the stress can do (including halting weight loss).

Creating healthy stress management strategies will support you in feeling better while also promoting healthy weight loss.

Try this:

  • Practice meditation regularly: Meditationhas been shown to relax the nervous system and diminish symptoms of stress. Take a few minutes and find a regular time each day (such as first thing in the morning or right before bed) when you can practice meditation.
  • Practice self-care: Practicing daily self-care has been shownto quell feelings of stress and increase the overall quality of life.
  • Journal: Sort out some of your stressful feelings through journaling. Emotion-focused journalingcan help you mitigate stress and increase well-being.
  1. Practice Forming Habits

To reach your long-term health and weight-loss goals, you need to create supportive, healthy eating habits. One of the leading researchers in the field of habit formation, James Clear, recommends that you commit to making small, incremental changes rather than trying to create a new habit or get rid of an old habit all at once. Instead of relying on willpower, which can be irregular and inconsistent, you can make small, easy changes that, over time, will lead to impressive results.

Forming habits can be effective in many areas of your life that relate to weight loss, such as eating, exercising, meditation, sleep routines, and your support systems and strategies.

Try this:

  • Consider picking one very small healthy weight-loss strategy and practice making it a daily habit.
  • Set a reasonable time frame to work within (such as 60 days) to anchor your new behavior with time, consistency, and practice.
  1. Learn Mindful Eating

Mindfulness is defined as the ability to experience real-time thoughts, sensations, experiences, and emotions without judgment. Mindfulness has also been shown to have positive effects on health and well-being in many areas of daily living.

Mindful eating—paying attention to your food, eating consciously, moment by moment—is a well-known practice to support individuals in savoring the eating experience while also staying present during mealtime.

Try this:

  • Practice breathing: Try focusing on your breathing. Slow, deep breathsactivate the parasympathetic (calming) branch of your nervous system and support healthy digestion. Breathing before you take each bite also allows you to slow down and be conscious and more mindful of your hunger and fullness cues.
  • Practice gratitude: Gratitudehelps you focus on the goodness in your life. If eating is confusing, stressful, or even anxiety-ridden, practicing gratitude can shift your perspective and enhance your eating experience, helping you to appreciate the blessings of food and well-being.
  1. Celebrate Your Successes

Often, you may find yourself ignoring your little successes and focusing on the gargantuan goal that may require some time and patience. When working toward your long-term health and weight goals, try celebrating the little successes and victories along your way, marking your progress to fuel your hope and inspiration.

Try this:

  • Acknowledge your progress as you go. Tracking changes and celebrating your successes (big and small) will continue to inspire your health and healing.
  • Share and celebrate your success with others in your life. Sharing the successes you are having with others can boost your mood and inspire you to stay focused on fulfilling your intentions for your health and well-being.

As you can see, there are many aspects of your health to consider including in your New Year’s weight loss plan. The synergy of each of these strategies creates stepping-stones to your success.

 

How to Stand Up for Your Beliefs Without Confrontation

By Adam Brady, Vedic Educator

3

Standing up for your beliefs in a skillful, conscious, and non-confrontational manner can make all the difference in helping your perspective be heard in a firm, yet compassionate way. Here’s how.

Your core values are a fundamental quality of your personality and sense of who you are. They define the concepts and principles that shape your being and influence your choices throughout the course of your life. Most of the time these values work quietly behind the scenes as they subtly influence your thoughts, speech, and actions. However, on occasion you may find the need to stand up for your beliefs and hold firm to what you believe to be right and true. Doing so in a skillful, conscious, and non-confrontational manner can make all the difference in helping your perspective be heard in a firm, yet compassionate way.

Consider the following suggestions whenever you feel the need to hold firm to your beliefs in the face of opposition:

Know What You Believe and Stand For

While this may sound like an obvious first step, it is one that can be easily overlooked. Dedicate some quality time to prioritize your fundamental beliefs. Write them down in order of importance so you can clearly see what matters most in your life. This is also a perfect opportunity to connect with your higher self through meditation. By tapping into the deeper level of your soul regularly, you can more easily access the most profound qualities and values you wish to embody.

Consciously Choose Your Battles

It’s important to recognize that not all situations require you to defend your beliefs tooth and nail. As the great military general Sun Tzu once said, “If a battle can’t be won, don’t fight it.” When circumstances arise that may challenge your beliefs, consciously consider if it ranks high enough on your list of values to take a stand for or if it’s not worth the time and energy involved in trying to convince another. Remember the well-known adage: A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

Take Action or Say Something

Once the conscious choice is made to stand up for your beliefs, commit to taking action. Take a deep breath, muster your courage, and speak up; take a stand and point out that a line has been crossed. This is not a time for neutrality—your beliefs aren’t much good if you’re unwilling to act upon them. Being an agent of change requires that you call forth the fearlessness of your soul to speak through you and hold firm to what you know to be true and right.

Speak with Impeccability

When standing up for your values, it’s vital to be impeccable and skillful in your speech. Assertively hold the line yet strive to be courteous and polite while defending your point of view. Understand there is a difference between criticizing another’s beliefs and attacking them as a person. Try to take the higher road and utilize what Buddhists call Right Speech: abstaining from lying, divisive and abusive speech, or idle chatter. Essentially, you should speak only words that do no harm, especially when defending your beliefs.

Remain Objective and Avoid Emotional Reactivity

When boundaries of beliefs are threatened, it becomes very easy for the situation to escalate emotionally. In such situations, it is key to remain objective and maintain a clear head. Try to see the issue from a removed, third-party perspective. Avoid taking things too seriously or personally and work to remember that your true identity is the ever-present witnessing awareness that doesn’t judge or evaluate; it simply observes. Harness that stillness to project a calm, confident energy as you stand up for what you believe in.

Compassionately Respect Other People’s Perspectives as Valid for Them

While you may not agree with their perspective, those who challenge your values have beliefs of their own, which from their perspective are completely appropriate. The experiences of your life have shaped your choices and beliefs, and the course of another’s evolution is just as sacred and valid as your own. Oscar Wilde is keen to remind us that, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” Their soul has chosen a life with its own set of unique challenges and opportunities, and you are not qualified to judge those choices. The best you can do is to compassionately work to find the middle ground where you can coexist in harmony.

Let Go of the Outcome

Remember, your objective is to stand up for your beliefs, not necessarily change another person’s beliefs. Sometimes, it may be enough to hold your ground and be a voice for what matters to you. Having done so, you can let go of trying to change others and let the universe handle the outcome. Know that every thought, word, and deed that supports the expansion of peace, harmony, compassion, justice, honesty, truth, and love influences the collective consciousness of the world. Or as Robert F. Kennedy put it:

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

  

10 Real-Food Snacks to Boost Your Energy

By Lauren Venosta, Clinical Nutritionist & Personal Chef

4

Who doesn’t need more energy? Especially mid-afternoon, after a full day? Avoid the easy grabs from the company kitchen or vending machines and take your own healthy energy-boosting snacks with you. Keep reading for ideas.

Snacking is something most people do every day and oftentimes it’s centered around an event or activity. Going to a movie? Get some goodies. Jumping in the car for a road trip? Pack the snacks. Hungry at the beach? Bust out the refreshments! But snacks aren’t always a good idea because, in the standard American diet, snack foods often aren’t “real” food; they are often overly processed and loaded with sugar. Think about it—chips, crackers, candy bars, granola bars, cookies, trail mixes, cheese products, and protein bars are all processed and typically contain some type of sugar. When you eat these snacks, they don’t provide your body with high amounts of nutrients. And what is the point of snacking to begin with? Energy.

Snacks should provide you with a little energy to last you to the next meal or satisfy a low level of hunger. But processed snacks like chips or cookies don’t provide energy—they drain it. Digestion is an energy-consuming function of the human body. Digestion requires breaking down the food, extracting nutrients, absorbing nutrients, and assimilating those nutrients (for example, making proteins for antibodies) to give your body what it needs.

If you’re snacking for energy, be sure to make your snack nutrient-dense so your body isn’t doing the work of digestion for nothing. Because if you consume a snack that is void of nutrients, such as a processed granola bar, the energy-consuming digestive process is going to be a waste because there are few or no nutrients for your body to absorb. Avoid those empty calories! Choose snacks that are both satisfying and healthy so you can enjoy your snack and increase your energy too.

When you’re looking to consume a snack, focus on these three tips:

  • Choose snacks that are as fresh and minimally processed as possible. The less processed your snack is, the more nutrients it will have. Think about choosing a nutrient-dense food (such as an apple) instead of a calorically dense food (such as chips).
  • Make the snacks easy to access and consume. If a snack requires a lot of preparation, you’re more likely to grab a granola bar or candy bar for convenience. Package your healthy snacks so that they are easy to grab and go.
  • Pick foods you enjoy eating. If you are eating snacks that you don’t like just because they are healthy, it won’t last. Find foods that are healthy and satisfying. There are tons of options for nutrient-dense real-food snacks that you can enjoy.

The following are 10 healthy snacks that will improve your energy and satisfy your taste buds, too. These snacks are minimally processed and loaded with nutrients. They are all easy to consume and won’t leave you feeling depleted.

  1. Brown Rice Cake with Almond Butter and Cinnamon

This is a great at-home snack that you can make in less than two minutes. You’re getting healthy carbohydrates from the brown rice cake, and healthy fat and protein from the almond butter. The cinnamon is helpful for balancing blood sugar (which means you’re less likely to have an energy crash).

  1. Celery Sticks with Dates

Celery is a fibrous vegetable that will help keep you full between meals. It’s also water-rich so it will help you stay hydrated. Dates contain healthy carbohydrates, which give the body the necessary glucose for energy. This is an easy snack to take on the go.

  1. Raw Cashews with Dried Cranberries

This is a simple and healthy take on a trail mix. Cashews provide healthy fat and protein, while dried cranberries give glucose to boost energy. Glucose from a dried fruit is superior to the refined sugar in a candy bar. It’s important to be cautious with sugar; consider the source before consuming it.

  1. Avocado with Himalayan Pink Salt

Avocados are loaded with healthy fats that the body can use for energy. Adding the pink salt provides the body with a tiny boost of minerals that are often lacking, such as magnesium. This is a good at-home snack that’s quick and easy.

  1. Banana with Almond Butter

This super simple and delicious combo will satisfy your cravings for sweet and salty foods. Bananas are great for energy, and the almond butter provides healthy fat and protein. It’s creamy and tasty too!

  1. Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are an easy snack that packs a protein punch. Protein helps promote satiety (aka fullness), and the amino acids that make up proteins promote energy production. Eggs are quick to eat and don’t require much work. You can buy them at the grocery store already hard-boiled or you can follow this simple recipe to make them in the oven.

No-Boil Hard-Boiled Eggs

Ingredients:

1 dozen eggs

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees (F).

Place the eggs in a muffin pan to prevent the eggs from rolling around. Put the pan in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove eggs from the oven and place them in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes. Timing is crucial for these eggs to turn out correctly, so use a timer.

Once you remove the eggs from the ice water, they can be peeled. Tap the eggs gently on a board and roll one at a time to help loosen the shell. Peel the entire shells off and you have easy hard-boiled eggs.

Serves 12

  1. Roasted Chickpeas

These little crunchy goodies are the perfect healthy snack if you are a fan of chips or crackers. The salty crunch that these roasted chickpeas give you is super satisfying. Chickpeas have both protein and fiber, which will help keep you full and provide energy until your next meal. Try this recipe for Salt-and-Pepper Chickpea Crunchies.

Salt-and-Pepper Chickpea Crunchies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans (15 oz.) chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (F).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking and for easy cleanup. Pour your chickpeas onto a blanket of paper towels and then use another paper towel to roll the chickpeas around. This will help loosen any of the skins on the chickpeas. When the skin is removed, they are crispier and crunchier.

Add the chickpeas to a bowl and pour in the melted coconut oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well until they are all coated. Pour out the chickpeas evenly onto your baking sheet and bake for 30–40 minutes until they are crunchy and brown.

You can add additional salt and pepper upon removal from the oven if desired. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Makes 3 cups.

  1. Bell Pepper Sticks with Guacamole

This snack is great for at home or to grab for on the go. You can slice up your favorite color of bell pepper and dip it into a basic guacamole recipe for a crunchy and satisfying snack. You can often find pre-cut bell pepper sticks and premade guacamole in your grocery store’s produce department. Avocados are loaded with nutrients and are about 79% fiber, so they are a filling snack that will keep your blood sugar stable and provide lasting energy.

  1. Carrot Sticks with Hummus

Sweet carrot sticks with creamy hummus are simple yet satisfying. Carrots are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, including high levels of B vitamins, which help to convert food into energy. Hummus, which typically contains chickpeas, tahini, and garlic or other herbs and spices, provides a steady source of energy and can also help control blood sugar levels. Slice up carrots on your own or buy them pre-cut at the grocery store. You can also buy store-bought hummus or make your own at home. And to switch it up, you can swap out carrots for cucumbers, bell peppers, or celery sticks.

  1. Fresh Fruit with Nuts or Seeds

Fruit is widely available anywhere and is loaded with nutrients and fiber, both of which sustain energy levels. Nuts are also easy to eat and are abundant in healthy fats and protein, which is a valuable energy source. Think about these combos: apple with almonds, grapes with cashews, blueberries with pecans, blackberries with pumpkin seeds, pineapple with cashews, pear with peanuts—there are so many combos for this snack that you will never get bored.

With all these snack options, there is no need to reach for a bag of chips or a sugary granola bar. You can have fresh, real-food snacks that will give you lasting energy instead of just a temporary sugar high followed by an energy crash. As each new week begins, plan your favorite healthy snacks and prep them for easy grab-and-go, energy-boosting snacking throughout the week.

February

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Hello dear friends, Happy February!

Together, we continue building a habit to stay positive.

Whatever you decided 2020 will be for you – just try to vibrate high, so the toxic people or situations have no choice but to fall out of your frequency!

Please enjoy the articles below.

Namaste!

 

Ananda: Discover the Vedic Way to Happiness and Bliss

By Lissa Coffey

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I’m sure you’ve heard much about The Law of Attraction – I get e-mail solicitations almost daily about how to make money, have it all, or get rich. But the more I tune into wisdom, the more I learn that what makes life rich is not about abundance, it’s about bliss.

We already have abundance in our lives, including an abundance of stress! The whole world is filled with uncertainty. How can we be happy when so much around us is rapidly changing?

We live in a world of material luxuries, and yet we feel unfulfilled. We are longing for more, but we don’t know what that “more” is. Turns out, the happiness that has eluded us for so long was there all the time, we’ve just been looking in the wrong place. It’s not about “attracting” or “manifesting” – it’s about the tranquility and freedom that comes with knowing who you are.

Anandakanda is a Sanskrit word meaning the root of bliss. This is represented as a lotus in the heart center, where we feel bliss, love, and happiness. Nothing material can fill the desire for freedom or happiness. Only the spiritual can do that. We need to know the true Self.

This is why I wrote “Ananda: Discover the Vedic Way to Happiness and Bliss.” The ancient sages left tools for us so that we could figure it out for ourselves. Why not start out this new year feeling good about life, and about who you are?

Restorative Yoga: The Basics + 5 Pose

By Lena Schmid

Restorative yoga, as its name implies, can help relax and ground you. Here you will learn what to expect and some basic poses you can do virtually anywhere to start your gentle yoga practice.

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There are certain physical movements that are so beneficial to the body, mind, and spirit that they can be practiced daily or weekly. Gentle yoga poses that stretch the body and help to calm the nervous system are wonderful additions to any daily ritual. Incorporating restorative yoga poses such as Child’s Pose, Legs Up the Wall, and gentle spinal twists into your regular exercise routine can aid in general relaxation, injury recovery, and slowing down the endless chatter of the mind.

What Is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga, also called gentle yoga, is a style of yoga designed to relax, restore, and rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit. Restorative yoga falls under the umbrella of hatha yoga, an ancient form of yoga with origins in India, which is intended to stretch and strengthen the physical body in preparation for seated meditation.

In a restorative yoga class, you will find mellow movements, long-held postures often supported with props such as blankets and blocks, and a general atmosphere of ease and calm. Poses may be held anywhere from two to 20 minutes. Although restorative yoga is sometimes conflated or confused with yin yoga, the practices differ. In the yin yoga practice, the intention is to stretch into deep layers of the body through long-held poses that put a small, deliberate amount of stress on the body.

Restorative Yoga’s Intention

The intention of a restorative yoga class is to create the conditions for calm so as to allow students to drop into a state of deep relaxation and stillness. In a restorative yoga class, you may find soothing music, relaxing pranayama practices, teachers offering optional hands-on adjustments or reiki with consent, heavy use of props, and perhaps mantra chanting. This intentionally calming environment is in stark contrast to the busyness of modern life and can provide a safe place of respite and refuge.

When and Where to Practice Restorative Yoga

The best time to practice restorative yoga is anytime you have the space and time to practice. Restorative yoga can be practiced morning, noon, or night. You may like to practice first thing when you wake up to get your day started on a positive note, gently waking up the body and mind. You may like to practice after an aerobic exercise workout, stretching the muscles after exertion. Or you may like to practice as part of an evening wind-down routine, preparing yourself for a good night’s rest.

You can practice restorative yoga anywhere—such as home, a yoga studio, or the airport as you await your flight. While the poses suggested here use the support of props, one of the best things about yoga is that it can be done anywhere there is a safe ground to stand or sit. Get creative about where and when you practice restorative yoga, and let the intention of restoration guide you.

Restorative Yoga Props

Props can support your restorative yoga practice and make it extra comfortable. When your limbs and body feel supported, you may be able to relax even deeper into the poses. When you are able to relax your body, your nervous system is able to relax. When your nervous system is able to relax, your brain and body can recharge. When you feel recharged, you can show up as the best version of yourself for your family, friends, coworkers, community, and the world.

Here are some props you may enjoy including in your restorative yoga practice. If possible, look for props made from recycled, organic, and eco-conscious materials.

  • Yoga mat: Choose a soft yoga mat for your restorative practice. You may even like to drape a blanket over the entire mat for extra cushioning and warmth.
  • Blankets:Use any blanket that will provide weight, warmth, and cushion for your practice. Mexican blankets are commonly used as props in yoga studios.
  • Yoga blocks: Yoga blocks are often made from wood, cork, or recycled foam. You can also use a stack of books as blocks when practicing at home.
  • Bolsters:Bolsters are big pillows with some stiffness that allows for more support during restorative poses. You can choose from rectangular, round, or an alternative shape.
  • Eye pillow:An eye pillow is a small rectangular pillow usually filled with flax seed or sand. Oftentimes there are also dried lavender flowers inside for some relaxing aromatherapy.

The following restorative yoga poses can be done individually, as a sequence, or in any order that suits your needs. Do these poses as often as possible. Every day would be just fine, but even once a week would be delightful and beneficial.

  1. Child’s Pose

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Benefits: Relaxes the low back, gently stretches the knees, and has an overall grounding effect.

Props needed: Two blankets, one bolster. Optional: Two blocks.

How to:

  • Fold one blanket so that there is extra cushion under your knees.
  • Place your bolster in front of you.
  • Bring your big toes together and widen your knees as much as is comfortable for you. Option: Place a block between your heels and move your hips back toward your heels.
  • Fold your second blanket and place it at the head of the bolster like a pillow.
  • Slide the bolster between your knees and tip forward. Rest your belly, ribs, and chest on the bolster. Option: Place a block under the head of the bolster for a slight incline.
  • Turn your head to one side.
  • Rest your arms along either side of the bolster. Palms can face up or down.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for five to 25 minutes.
  1. Supta Badha Konasana(Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

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Benefits: Relaxes the back, gently stretches the hips and groins, and has an overall grounding effect.

Props needed: Two blocks, two blankets. Optional: Eye pillow.

How to:

  • Fold one blanket so that it fits comfortably under your head like a pillow.
  • Set your two blocks to either side of your hips.
  • Recline onto your back.
  • Bend your knees and bring the bottoms of your feet together. Allow your knees to open out like butterfly wings.
  • Slide the blocks underneath your knees or thighs for support. Situate the blocks so that they are comfortably resting under your legs; if the edges of the blocks dig into your legs, turn the blocks to a more sustainable angle.
  • Drape the other blanket over your pelvis and abdomen or unfold it completely and cover your whole body.
  • Rest your arms down by your sides and turn your palms to face up and open.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for five to 25 minutes.

 

  1. Supported Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

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Benefits: Opens the chest and shoulders, relaxes the upper back, and has an overall energizing effect.

Props needed: Two blocks. Optional: Bolster, blanket, and eye pillow.

How to:

  • Set up your blocks so that one block is at the lowest height and one block is at the medium height. Option: Rest your bolster on top of the blocks for a more cushioned reclining experience.
  • Fold your blanket as a pillow to be placed underneath your head.
  • Sit down in front of the blocks and recline back. Set one block beneath your upper back and one block beneath your head.
  • Adjust the blocks so that you feel supported and are able to drop all of your body weight onto the blocks.
  • Extend your legs out in front of you and relax your feet.
  • Rest your arms down by your sides with your palms facing up.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for five to 10 minutes.
  • If at some point during the hold of the pose you wish to open up your neck and throat in a different way, turn the block beneath your head to the lower height and tip your head back slightly more.
  • When you release from this pose, rest flat on your back for several breaths.
  1. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

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Benefits: Relaxes the mid-back, stretches the low back and hamstrings, and has an overall meditative effect.

Props needed: One blanket, one or two blocks.

How to:

  • Come down to a seated position.
  • Extend your legs out in front of you with your feet as wide as your hips.
  • Roll up your blanket and place it beneath your knees.
  • If your low back is tight or tender, you may wish to sit up on another blanket, bolster, or block.
  • Begin to fold forward—any amount.
  • Place one or two blocks either right between your shins or on top of your shins.
  • Rest your forehead on your blocks. At some point during your hold, as your body warms and relaxes, you may wish to lower the height of the blocks.
  • Allow your arms to rest down by your sides or next to your legs.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for five to 25 minutes.
  1. Supine Twist

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Benefits: Gently stretches the entire back, massages the internal organs in the abdomen, and has an overall unwinding and balancing effect.

Props needed: Two blankets, one bolster. Optional: Eye pillow.

How to:

  • Come down onto your back.
  • Place one blanket under your head as a gentle pillow.
  • Hug your knees into your chest.
  • Stretch your arms out to the sides.
  • Tip your knees over to one side.
  • Place the bolster in between your knees and ankles, or rest it on its side behind your back.
  • Drape the second blanket over your legs and feet.
  • Turn your head gently away from your knees.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for five to 25 minutes.
  • Repeat the twist on the second side.

Restorative yoga can be grounding, balancing, reflective, and even energizing. Remember, when you take time out for yourself, you are better able to show up for your family, community, and the world. Take some time out each week or each day to restore and renew. Your body, mind, spirit, and family will thank you.

 

Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core

4 ounces pancetta, 1/4-inch-diced

1/4 cup good olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon syrupy balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, including some of the loose leaves, which get crispy when they’re roasted. Add the pancetta, olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, toss with your hands, and spread out in a single layer. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re tender and nicely browned and the pancetta is cooked. Toss once during roasting. Remove from the oven, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar, and toss again. Taste for seasonings, and serve hot.