Fascianation: CTF III – Drink More Water

Photo by Erik Dunham

6. Hydrate.  Hydrate.  Hydrate.

This is an important suggestion from Tom Myers regarding Connective Tissue Fitness.  Your body mass is about 70% water, about the same percentage as the Earth’s surface.  We can live without food for a month or more, but without water, we may perish within only a few days.  Fascia is known as “organized water,” so staying hydrated is key to maintaining good health.

Ayurveda offers some suggestions on how to remain well hydrated.  Most people should drink between 5-7 cups of water each day.  You figure a cup is 8 ounces, so that is 40-56 ounces per day.  The exact amount will be different based upon your constitution, your dosha, lifestyle and physical activity, your job, and the weather.  A vata person may require 6-8 cups per day, pitta is more in the middle with 5-7, and a kapha person more like 4-5 cups per day.

Use plain water at warm or room temperature, and in fact, the hotter the better.  Drinking one to two mugs of hot water in the morning before eating breakfast will help stimulate your digestive system so that it is ready to take on food and you may eliminate well.  Hot water specifically will help build agni, the digestive fire, and remove ama, toxic sludge that can build up in the body when we do not digest properly.  Ice water or anything colder than body temperature can be a shock to the system and your body will resist digesting and absorbing it and anything else you eat while drinking the ice water.

Coffee, tea, and soft drinks do not have the same effect as water.  Coffee and tea are both diuretics, so you may end up less hydrated after drinking them.  Green tea is high in anti-oxidants so it can be helpful to your health, just drink in moderation and make sure you continue to get enough plain water as well.  Don’t even get me started on soft drinks.  Sodas contain phosphoric acid that can leach calcium from your body, and diet soft drinks are just as bad.  Fruit juice, on the other hand, in moderation can be quite refreshing.

Can you drink too much water?  Yes.  Sometimes you will hear it is good to drink more water to flush out the kidneys, but when the kidneys are already fatigued, excess water will be like drowning so it becomes even harder for them to do their job.  That water that is not absorbed will be retained in connective tissue and lead to excess weight.  If you drink too much and “drown” the kidneys, it can cause a loss of sodium and potassium and then you are more prone to muscle cramps and gas in the colon.  These conditions are due to water toxicity which will affect cell metabolism and in extreme cases can be fatal.  (Dr. Vasant Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda, Fundamental Principles, p. 141)

Photo by Erik Dunham

So how do you improve water absorption and therefore good hydration in the body?  Stick with the average 5-7 cups of fresh water per day.  If you eat raisins or other dried fruits for breakfast, soak them in water overnight before eating them.  This goes for almonds too.  Almonds are less acidic than other nuts and they are high in protein, vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium.  Soaking them overnight does double-duty because you are basically sprouting the almonds and therefore activating enzymes that will assist your absorption of nutrients in addition to absorption of extra water.  Soak your rice overnight before cooking that as well.

Soups and stews are a great way to add more water to your diet, and because the water is inherent in the food, your body is more likely to absorb it.  One pot meals such as soups and stews are also beneficial in that they are generally easier to digest so your G-I tract is not over-taxed.

One last thing when drinking your 1-2 mugs of hot water in the morning:  experiment with herbs and spices.  If you are feeling acidic, squeeze a little lemon juice in to your water to calm your stomach.  If you have had a poor appetite lately or if you feel congested, infuse a few slices of fresh ginger root in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, and then drink.  If you are feeling weaker or fatigued, add a little honey to your ginger tea.  Cardamom, cumin, and fennel seeds together in equal proportion infused in boiling water, again 10-15 minutes, has a similar beneficial effect on your digestion as the ginger.  Strain the seeds out before you drink and add some natural sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or agave, if necessary.  Cinnamon is an all-around beneficial spice, it is warming and can break up congestion as well as bring mental clarity.  For more suggestions on spices, Eat, Taste, Heal by Yarema, Rhoda, and Brannigan, is a great text with an overview of Ayurveda as well as recipes for your dosha.

So, these are some things to think about regarding proper hydration for your body.  Your fascia will reward you with greater flexibility, elasticity, and tone.

 

Next up: Fascianation: CTF IV.
Return to Fascianation: CTF II.

Fasciation: CTF II

Ready for more?  Here’s a great video about fascia.  Warning: this is not for the squeamish.  And the music is a nice touch.

So let’s look at more suggestions for fascial fitness, big thank you to Tom Myers.

3. Cultivate elasticity by smooth rhythmic movements.  Walking is awesome.

Elasticity is related to flexibility.  If the fascia is elastic, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments will stretch and bounce back rather than pull and stay pulled.  Bonus healthy points!

Let’s talk about smooth rhythmic movements.  When you feel stiff, for example upon waking in the morning, a hot shower is often helpful, but getting moving encourages greater circulation as well.  Your body is built to move, and walking is great exercise for your body.  It is a simple movement that has very positive effects.  Dr. Claudia Welch, author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, encourages a walk in the early morning to improve overall health.  She states, “It has been demonstrated that by the end of a sixteen-week period, depressed patients who took a brisk thirty-minute walk or jog three times a week experienced as much relief as patients treated with standard antidepressant meditations.” (p. 221, Balance Your Hormones…)  Plus, walking is kind to your joints.

If you run, barefoot running stimulates the feet and therefore the rest of your body, based on the way the lines of fascia travel from your feet all the way up to your tongue and even the top of your head.  Jumping rope is another good activity as is bouncing on a trampoline.

4. Train with preparatory counter movements.  For example, bend backward to then go forward.

So this is during training, during exercise.  Hmm, well, yoga comes to mind.  Think of cat-cow tilts.  Surya namaskar, sun salutations, are all about bending backward to then go forward.  Mr. Iyengar in Light On Yoga suggests this in several places, parsvottanasana being one.  In a side forward bend you first create a standing backbend to lengthen the spine, then you fold forward from the hips to maintain inner spaciousness.

Sarvaungasana, shoulderstand, and Matsyasana, fish pose are excellent counter movements to balance each other.  The recommendation is to hold sarvaungasana for twice as long, two minutes for example, to matsyasana’s one minute.  This has the added bonus of strengthening and balancing thyroid function.

Purvottasana and paschimottanasana is another good combination.  These do not have to be repeated a lot.  Three repetitions for each pose will do, holding for at least 30 seconds and up to 2 minutes.

And our final suggestion for the day:

5. Expand your body towards full kinesthetic sensory experience.  Dance!

There’s a term called “kinesthetic literacy.”  How well can you feel yourself?  Like your physical body, when you close your eyes and become sensitive to your body, are there areas of your consciousness’ container that you cannot feel?  For example numbness, but also a place (or places) where you intuitively feel there is less awareness?  This takes a bit of practice.  When you close your eyes and sensitize yourself inwardly, do you feel any dark places, gripping or holding where vital energy seems to get stuck?  The more you move, the less likely it is for you to have blockages in the flow of vital energy.

Knowing where your body is in space is another way of looking at it.  If you are standing in tadasana, mountain pose, and your teachers says take your hips back in space so that they are over your heels, do you know what that feels like?  Do you know what internal shifts take place when that happens?  Can you feel a steady anchoring through your legs and feet when that happens?  Massage in general is helpful for this as well, massaging your own feet is a wonderful practice.  First of all it just feels good, but secondly, you increase your kinesthetic awareness.  As one of my teachers likes to say, “touch to wake up.”

I repeat, how well can you feel yourself?  Neuroscientists believe that fascia is the structure that carries consciousness.  Totally amazing.

Okay, next time we will discuss hydration.

 

Next up: Fascianation: CTF III Drink More Water.

Go back to Fascianation: Connective Tissue Fitness.

Fascianation: Connective Tissue Fitness

It has been a long time since I last posted about fascia, but that does not mean that I am any less interested or excited about it.  In preparing for my upcoming six-week-special at Willow Street Yoga Center, the Fascia Sutras, I’ve had a chance to delve more deeply into the topic and am planning to document the good stuff here.

A brief review on fascia:  it is the connective tissue in the body.  It is what gives your body structure.  Without fascia, you would collapse like a bag of individual bones piled on the floor.  Fascia weaves through the muscles as well as surrounds the muscles and it is what is between your muscles and your skin.  Muscles do not “attach” to bones, yes there are tendons and ligaments that help support the structure, but it is more correct (at least due to current research) to think of it as the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones gliding fluidly along each others’ surfaces.  Fascia is considered “organized water,” in that water is a large component of the connective tissue and the connective tissue organizes in both vertical lines and horizontal bands.  Hence the name Fascia Sutras, because a sutra is a line or a thread.  Instead of thinking of your body as consisting of 600 different muscles, think of your body as one muscle with 600 pockets.  Phew.  That was a lot.

Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains and Fascial Fitness Practitioner Extraordinaire, offers 10 suggestions for fascial fitness on his webinar on Yoga U.  We’ll discuss a couple today…

1. Focus on strengthening and stretching the long neuro-myo-fascial sutras rather than simply isolating muscle groups.  Hooray for yoga!

It is called neuro-myo-fascia because there are many nerve endings in the fascia that surround the muscles, therefore, mind and body are connected within the connective tissue.  Body builders way back in the 70s, and even today, isolate particular muscle groups to build them up and make them prominent.  But as the muscles bulge like that, they lose their flexibility.  A body-builder becomes muscle-bound.  Think of when you feel tight in a particular muscle, first of all it is most likely the fascia that is actually tight, and secondly, we all know it is not comfortable.

Hooray for yoga because instead of repetitive motion in a particular area, yogis practice a wide variety of motions to lengthen muscles as they build strength.  Think of Virabhadrasana I, from the back leg all the way up to your upraised hands, that is a long line of motion.  There is plenty of room to open up space in the connective tissue to allow vital energy in the form of prana, nutrients from food, and lymph to flow.  Parighasana is another good one.  Flexible muscles are naturally strong.

To be clear, it is not that lifting weights is bad, it is just better if exercise that isolates muscle groups is balanced with stretching as well.

2. Engage your muscles before stretching them, and then stretch them in multiple directions.

Before exercise, warm up the muscles with fluid movements of short duration; the body is built to move, and short, deliberate, graceful actions will increase circulation to warm the connective tissue as much as the muscles themselves.  Then engage your muscles, create muscular energy if you will, in order to stretch them in a healthy way.

If you only attempt to stretch the muscles without creating some stability first, then it is more likely that muscle and connective tissue will pull away from the bones.  Create resistance first, and then you may go deeper within a stretch or yoga pose.  Now, I am not an expert, but I do have personal experience on this.  There was a reason Anusara Yoga taught Muscular Energy before Organic Energy (extending outward through the bones in brief), it is an effective and healthy way to practice.

 So, engage your muscles first, and then make sure you move in multiple directions.  We are going for maximum sensation here.  If you practice a yoga posture and notice a muscle you never knew you had before, congratulations!  More body awareness points for you!  Having a kinesthetic sense of your own body is wonderful.  Mainly it just feels good to infuse vital energy to a place that may have been dull or blocked, but in addition your stability, coordination, and balance will improve.  This feeling in the body is totally empowering.  Awesome.
Stay tuned… we’ve got eight more suggestions to go.
Move forward to Fascianation: CTF II.

I Should vs. I Am

Ever do this?

I should go clean the kitchen.  I should lose a few pounds.  I should be kinder to … I should study a second language.

Not at all?  I didn’t think so.  Me neither.

The list could go on and on, couldn’t it?  An endless litany of things that should be happening in order to make life better in the future.  But what about right now?  How do you feel right now, in this moment?  Overwhelmed, sleepy, angry, excited, happy, confused, resentful, peaceful, content.  Often it is a mixture of feelings.

When you feel caught up in all those “should”s, it is not easy to stop, breathe, and feel.  This is what yoga is all about.  Taking the time for yourself to stop, breathe, and feel.  It is a big reason why yoga is so relaxing for the system; muscles have a chance to stretch out and release pent up anxieties and that helps clear your head.  Any activity we undertake is much more fun, interesting, doable with a clear head.

Next time you catch yourself saying “I should…” stop and change the narrative, complete the statement, “I am…”  For example, I am overwhelmed, I am tired, I am bored.  Figure out how you feel and let that guide what you do.  Instead of punishing yourself for all of those things that you think you need to do for some other reason outside of yourself.  You do not have to prove anything to anyone, and that includes to yourself.

Yoga for Stress Relief continues on Wednesday evenings in Cheverly, 6-7pm at CUMC, through April 3.

 

Next up: Fascianation: Connective Tissue Fitness.

Go back to Five Acts of Shiva.

 

Five Acts of Shiva

Photo by Erik Dunham

…Creation

An unexpected songbird greeted me
On Monday morning as I went out
To meet the day.

Martin Luther King Day, the second
Inauguration of our first black president.
Unexpected in the chill of winter.

Tuesday was colder still
As I watched my students move
Through warming backbends
To shake off the crustiness
Of January.

On Wednesday the wind blew
And outside was even colder.
Our indoor cat wanted out on the porch but
Quickly decided against that.

What will Thursday bring?

…Preservation

Snow.
Thursday brings a light falling of gentle powder
Cold.  Cottony.  Inviting.

Even if it is only a few inches
I am glad to be alive to witness it.
My fullest expression of consciousness
Cannot help but feel hopeful.

In many ways we are a divided people
But underneath the layers of daily activity and confusion
There is a wholeness
A shared experience

That longs to be expressed.

…Destruction

Many things are changing at the end of the Mayan calendar,
Out of Pisces and into
Aquarius.

The sun sets on division
And rises again to meet a new challenge.
Cycles continue but there must be
A letting go.

Let go of the fear of darkness
It is only one way of being.
Your shadow informs your light
And that light is glorious.

But first constriction and barriers
Must. break. down.

…Concealment

I do not know what is hidden,
Cannot know intellectually
But it can be felt.

Daily I practice to sensitize myself
To what lurks in shadow.
The seeds of change hibernate
In darkness

Patiently waiting.  Accepting nourishment
Receiving grace herself
As only the universe can provide.

There are worlds inside,
Planets and stars, moons and space
Not yet awakened by the sunny glow of consciousness

Yet still waiting for that right time.

…Revelation

My body disappears and I become
A constellation.

Seven shining stars in a straight line
My spirit floats in outer space.

The deepest darkness speckled with all manner
Of pinpricks of light.

When my body reappears, as it always does,
I am transformed
Transfixed by the vastness of Self.

My seven stars are surrounded by petals now
The powers of sound, light, heat, water, earth.

Holding me here.  In the wake of history.

Thousands of petals grow and dance out of the top
Of my head
As my teacher looks on.

Four petals blossom and reach out from the base
Of my spine
In my lover’s embrace.

I welcome each one,
Each experience an expression of wholeness.

Playful, joyful, full of sorrow.
Contradictions, yes, but

Rich

With

Life

 

 

Next up: I Should vs. I Am.

Go back to: My Holiday Wish For You

My Holiday Wish For You

Om sarve bhavantu sukhinah. Sarve santu niraamayaah.
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu. Maa kaschid dukhbhaag bhavet.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy.
May all beings experience prosperity. May none in the world suffer.

This ancient phrase has been translated in many different ways, but no matter what the wording, the meaning is clear.  A wish for peace and happiness for all beings.  Humans.  Animals.  Plants and rocks.  Earth and stars.

I’m much more inclined to celebrate the winter solstice than the other holidays that appear in December.  It feels more real to me.  Mostly because I am so over the rampant commercialism that promotes the underlying message that one is not complete unless s/he has more, better, faster, stronger.  What about the beauty of existence?  What about the captivity of the heart in a meaningful moment?  Often I am moving too fast to even appreciate the sunrise or the fleeting moments of stillness when my awareness transcends the superficial.

More connection, less consumption.  Yoga and even life itself is about relationship.  I want to talk to you.  I want to know how you are feeling and what is going on in your life.  I want to know what is true for you.  How can we create more meaning together?

Look to the rhythms within nature.  When the days are long and the sun is high in the sky, it is time to go outside both in reality and metaphysically. And when the days are short and the nights are long it is time to embrace the darkness, let your attention flow inward where it naturally wants to be and strengthen the inner bonds within yourself and among those who are closest.  The solstice reminds us of just that.  There may be less hours of sunlight right now, but on December 21 an amazing shift takes place.  Days are beginning to grow longer again.  It is a totally hopeful time of year.

I once went to India in early December.  It was really great because I missed all of the build up to the mass-consumerism that has become the result of what initially was a sacred moment (or several sacred moments).  Even the young Indian boys would wish me a Merry Christmas… they were trying to make me feel welcome and at home.  It was lovely because I felt welcome and was able to practice yoga and meditation, and then I was home in time to visit with family and friends after my trip as well.

There is no India trip this year.  And less physical presents for family and friends.  I want to experience more of relationship and connection to those close to me than the wave of gift giving that starts with all the hype and build-up, crests with the unwrapping, and inevitably ends with a period of sadness and emptiness when all of the gifts are opened, when all of the traveling and visiting is done.  What is left?  Togetherness.  That is the thing that is lasting.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings experience prosperity. May none in the world suffer.

 

Next up: Five Acts of Shiva

Go back to This Is Why I Do It

This Is Why I Do It

In the aftermath of the latest mass-shooting in Newtown, CT, all of my bitching about not having time enough to do the things I *really* want to do (like post on my blog!) seem quite measly.  I did not hear the news until late Friday evening, but as reports continue to surface, the one thing I keep asking myself is how did this 20 year old boy become so isolated that he felt the only way he could make a statement in the world is to destroy the hopes and dreams of so many innocents — and so many of elementary school age.  Granted, there may be, most probably are, some mental health issues here, but of those details I am not certain yet.  No matter, one person felt so separated from humanity that he had to destroy a chunk of it to make some peace with himself.  And now so many others have nothing resembling peace and will not for a long, long time.  To those people, my heart goes out in waves of sympathy.

In my classes since Friday, I’ve been suggesting that as people, sometimes there are things we can directly help with — for example if you have a psychological background, offering support to those who are suffering, or in the case of Hurricane Sandy, financial support to those in need — but sometimes due to circumstance there is little we can actually do to effect real and immediate change and so we, er, I, feel hopeless and powerless to do something.  But… as a yogi, I recognize that any effort at real transformation in the world always begins at the grassroots level, it always begins with one’s own self.  Sometimes the best thing one can do is just be the best person you can be.  I come back to my yoga practice, meditation and asana, with a sense that any semblance of peace I achieve in my own life can and just might have a ripple effect out into the world — those immediately close to me and those further out.  Often we hear about violent tragedy as the news sweeps the airwaves and that has a deep detrimental effect, and most often we do *not* hear about peace and steadiness and contentment that many are quietly developing in their own psyches during their own meditation practices.

Chinese medicine, the little of it that I have studied, suggests that we can actually feel the organ body inside of our skin.  For many people, common sense would say “no way,” but… if you can feel a vital organ when it is in pain, why can’t you feel an organ when it feels good?  Likewise, if violent, tragic, criminal acts have repercussions in the nation’s and even world awareness, why can’t acts of peace have similar repercussions?

As for me, to overcome the sense of overwhelm and powerlessness regarding this latest mass-shooting, I choose to continue practicing my yoga and sharing it with my students so that more people can recognize the amazing ability that these practices have to connect the practitioner to herself in the highest sense and even to the world.  There have been times in my life when I have felt isolated and alone, but I have discovered through my sadhana, meditation and yoga practice, that intimacy is available.  Yoga means to yoke or to join, to create union, and it means to create relationship — first with yourself and then with those around you, then with the greater community.

I once heard that Jerry Garcia (yes, THAT Jerry Garcia) had a way of warming up for concerts — first he got his fingers warm on the fretboard and became comfortable with himself, then with his music he reached out to his bandmates.  Once they established connection together, then he extended his musical phrases to his audience.  Real, lasting change starts within.

So last night I received one of my favorite comments of the year from a student.  He said that his son is coming home from college on Wednesday night so he will have to miss yoga class.  Next time he’s going to tell his son to come home on Thursday morning.

* * * * *

 

 

The lack of irony here is sometimes hard to swallow, but it’s a catchy tune, and Durga Das and Mira have quickly found a direct path to my heart.

 

 

* * * * *

Next up: My Holiday Wish For You

Go back to Sadhana

Sadhana

Sadhana is one of the first Sanskrit words that I ever learned.  Practice.

“Tantra Yoga is 1% theory and 99% practice.” – Sri Anandamurti

“Practice and all is coming.” – Sri Patthabi Jois

Last Friday night I completed teaching a six week special course on Meditation for Stress Relief.  One thing I tried to impress is that practice is really the key — set an intention to practice at least 10 minutes a day for the duration of our six week time together.  They say it takes three weeks of repeated practice to create a new habit, and we had six.  Did any students make that goal?  I am not completely sure, but at least the intention was there, the intention to practice was holding the space to actually make it happen.  If not now, some day.

So last week I was all prepared to offer a great meditation on working with difficult emotions, which we did, but not without interruption.  The entire time we sat in the studio at Willow Street Yoga Center in Takoma Park, there was construction going on directly upstairs from us.  This was at 6:15pm on a Friday night, mind you.  It was just little noises at first, but once we were settled in to the actual meditation itself, twice — not once, but twice — some heavy object like a drill or something was dropped. In the midst of (relative) silence, an abrupt, harsh, jarring noise.

When you are so in tune with your breath, you can really feel all the ways in which a loud jarring noise affects you.  Tendrils of sensation immediately fanned out from my ears to my belly to my skin.  My adrenaline kicked up a notch.  I can only imagine what it was like for my students. So, a gentle reminder, we are in a safe place, the ceiling is not going to come crashing down around us, please return to the flow of your breath.  And then the BANG happened again.

It reminded me of a Spiritual Warrior Camp I once attended.  Near Scranton, Pennsylvania, about ten years ago, my suite-mate at the time and I decided to take a week and practice meditation with fellow yogis who wanted to kick up their sadhana experience.  And kick it up we did.  We would wake early, 5am, and meditate.  We practiced meditation five times each day – early morning, before each meal, and before bed.  And in between we hiked and played paint ball (?!? how is this yogic?!?) and hiked more.

This was the one and only time I’ve ever played paintball, and it was not fun.  There were about 20 of us in this course and we divided into two teams.  Our team had strategy, and we even won, if you can call it that, but big purple bruises on my legs were evidence that I did not enjoy it.  Sometimes you’ve gotta do things you just don’t like I guess.

During one particular meditation, the three yogis leading the retreat had us sit out in a field near the ashram and while we were supposed to keep our eyes closed and focus on our mantras, they were running around us with drums and tambourines and little fireworks that you throw on the ground and make a big loud crack when they hit.  Yep, just like trying to meditate while construction is going on directly above you at a yoga studio.

That part of camp was great fun really.  I learned to focus deeper and not be attached to the stuff that doesn’t matter.  I learned to let the stuff that may be jarring just exist without having to react to it.  I learned let the stuff that does not pertain to me, even though it might affect me on some level, take its course without derailing my plans.  It is possible, it just takes practice.

On this path no effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed; even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow.

Bhagavad Gita 2.40 (Stephen Mitchell translation)

Next up: This Is Why I Do It

Go back to: I Feel Crappy

I Feel Crappy

There, I said it.  Out loud.  This whole week I’ve been battling a cold; first it was the sore throat, then the congestion in my head, then the body aches…  it has subsided but it is not over yet.

Fall is a beautiful season, we’ve been having wonderfully clear days and getting some much needed rain, but fall can also aggravate dryness (despite the rain) and anxiety and because of the massive fluctuations in temperature, we become much more susceptible to germs.  It is a busy time of year — as one of my teachers, Cate Stillman, said, just look at the squirrels! — and looking at my own schedule for teaching, attending class, and social obligations, I am no exception.  In the last week, all of these things conspired against me and nature abruptly said YOU NEED TO REST.

Last weekend I did not do the things I planned to do and stayed home to be quiet.  That helped because my sore throat went away and the congestion became more bearable.  But as I continued with my regular teaching schedule this week, my brain continued to be over-busy and discontent.  It occurred to me that my cold was as much mental as physical.  I went back and forth in my head about whether I should do a cleanse because I wasn’t really feeling into it this fall.  According to Ayurveda, fall is an ideal time to detox in order to let go of the excess heat that developed over the summer and to adjust on all levels, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, to the coming cold and damp of wintertime.

When I began cleansing in the fall a few years back, one of the first things I noticed was that winter became more bearable to me.  I love winter when it snows!  But when it does not snow (which is just as likely as not in the metro DC area) it is depressing.  With a fall detox as part of my annual routine, I almost kind-of sort-of look forward to the longer nights and colder days as a way of nesting and hibernating.  Spring does become that much more sweet.

Meanwhile, busy mind still here.  To cleanse or not to cleanse?  That is the question.  I had lots of ambivalence as the week and my cold persisted.  Dr. Claudia Welch, Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioner and author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, says when your life gets more complicated, simplify your diet.  So finally on Thursday, it was almost out of the blue.  A lightning bolt of revelation — I know how much better I feel when the detox is done.  Somehow the mental chatter (which has been yelling at me lately) calms a bit, physically my digestion is easier and more efficient, emotionally I have a little more compassion for those around me and especially for those who regularly go without food.

It is decided.  Five days of juicing.  I’m beginning day three today.  Slowing down to taste the juice, I make myself sit and offer a mantra of thanksgiving – Brahmar panam, Brahma havir, Brahma agnau, Brahma nahutam, Brahma eva tena gantavyam, Brahma karma samadhina – The act of offering, the oblation itself is pure Consciousness, within Consciousness it is offered to the fire of Consciousness, and those who act in harmony with Consciousness merge with blissful peace.

 

My current favorite recipe for juice:

4-5 stems of kale

1 medium apple

1/2 cucumber

1 inch of ginger root

Juice it up and drink it down.

 

Next up: Sadhana

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Ayurvedic Comfort Food

When I woke up this morning, the crisp fall air reminded me of how much I love crisp fall apples.  They are back in season and some of the best come from Rebert Farm at the Cheverly Community Market.  (Sure, shameless plug, I know.)  So, in the spirit of the season, I want to share my favorite fall breakfast.  It is warming, grounding, and rejuvenating and helps to combat the dryness of the season, plus it makes for happy digestion.

Apples and Oatmeal

The night before: soak a small handful of raisins and 10-12 almonds.

Other ingredients:

  • 1-2 apples
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ¼ cup whole rolled oats

Wash, core, and slice the apple(s).  Heat the apples in a small saucepan with the water, cinnamon, and ginger. When water comes to a boil, add raisins and oatmeal. Boil covered for five minutes or until the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, peel skins off the almonds.

When apples and oatmeal are done cooking, transfer to a bowl and add almonds.  You may use raw honey or agave to sweeten it, though it is already pretty sweet; and if you like, add some soy or almond milk to taste.  This recipe serves one.

Enjoy!

 

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