Archive for the ‘Off The Mat’ Category
As we enter the New Year, filled with a fresh attitude and sense of optimism, 50 percent of us will vow to engage in drastic self-improvement by making a “New Year’s Resolution.”
And most of us will likely not meet our self-imposed raised expectations, failing to improve our quality of life for yet one more year. With an 80 percent failure rate, I am left questioning this ancient tradition.
Beginning 4,000 years ago in Ancient Babylonia, New Year’s Resolutions were made with the belief that a change made at the beginning of the year would be mirrored throughout the year. If you lived during this time, your resolution was something simple, most likely to return something borrowed from a friend … usually some type of farm equipment.
Times have changed. Instead of successfully letting go of borrowed farm equipment once a year, we make soon to be broken vows to let go of bad habits that have often taken years to develop. While this tradition might have once served the Ancient Babylonians, it is not serving us and we are left with a feeling of defeat after breaking that important promise to ourselves that we will make a positive change.
I want to offer you a revised approach to New Year’s Resolutions that will increase your odds of becoming successful, and a provide guidance so you can make whatever change you want to make on your path towards better health.
Replace your “New Years Resolution” with a “Daily Resolution”
Real change takes time. It took awhile to get where you are today, so it is going to take time to change habits. One reason New Year’s Resolutions fail is often the goal is so overwhelming it seems impossible.
Looking at each new day as an opportunity to change for the better gives you a clear path as you journey toward better health one step at a time. Accept you will have good days, and days that don’t go as planned. But that is just part of the process.
Set an intention, and believe in your decision
“Resolution” is defined as “a firm decision to do something.” For change to occur, big or small, you must truly believe in what you are trying to accomplish.
Many times resolutions focus on something that we wish we could do, but deep down we don’t really believe it is possible.
For example, “I resolve to lose 50 pounds this year.” You may know this would be good for you. You may want to do this.
But with a goal this far away it may not seem possible. If you don’t believe your goal to be possible, then you have not really made the decision to make change. This sets you up for failure.
Instead, create an intention to plan healthy meals for the week ahead, and take it one day at a time. Or, set an intention to take three deep breaths before beginning each meal. Make the decision, and then do it. These are both steps towards losing 50 pounds … smaller victories of success as you move closer to your long-term objective.
Replace obstacles with opportunity
When you begin to make change, there will be obstacles … you don’t like exercise … your schedule is too hectic … you don’t know how to cook … your family requires too much time.
Obstacles are just part of life, and you have the choice to let them stand in the way of your progress or to serve as opportunities for growth.
Most resolutions focus on what we consider to be a negative element of ourselves. For example, many will resolve to “lose weight this year,” or to “get into better shape.”
Our focus is inherently rooted in self-loathing that has brought us into our current state. Instead, create a positive intention that allows for letting go of previous habits, and cultivate a space that can be filled with healthier living.
For example, replace, “Today I will exercise so I can lose weight” with, “Today, I look forward to stilling my mind while taking a walk with friends.”
Replace, “I will eliminate fast food from my diet” with, “I will learn how to cook healthy, simple meals.” A change in attitude about your health is truly the key to staying the course of change.
If you slip back, forgive yourself. Pick yourself up, and take another step forward. For many, change moves two steps forward, one step back. You aren’t alone!
You have everything within you to reach your potential in creating a more balanced, healthier, fuller life. You are entirely capable of losing weight, eating a healthier diet, reducing our stress, getting into better shape and transforming yourself by creating the life that you want.
As Published in the Placer Herald, 2006, Jean Munoz
‘Twas a moment in Savasana, when all through the studio, not a yogi was stirring – each trying to let go.
The Yoga mats were lined up in even rows with care, in hopes that inner peace, soon would be there.
The yogis were nestled, snug on their mat beds, while visions of inner peace danced in their heads.
Celebrate! Christmas, Kwanza, Hannukkah. Hard to settle our brains for a long peaceful Savasana.
For out on the town there had been such a clatter. All distracted with shopping, no notice anything was the matter.
Time to quiet the mind, it moves like a flash. Stop thinking of ways to turn over our cash!
The lights have been dimmed, as we seek our inner glow. I wiggle my fingers. Can’t relax. I wiggle my toe.
When what to my wondering self should appear. But a vision of peace, with a message that makes it all clear.
With a little inspiration, an exhale … I release. I knew in this moment it must be inner peace!
More rapid than eagles, the realization, it came. My mind calmed, it relaxed as it called them by name:
Now ‘Inhale’, Now ‘Exhale’, Now time to ‘just be.’ Oh ‘relax,’ Oh ‘Let Go’ of what stands in front of “me.”
To the top of my mind, had I broken down the wall? In this moment, inner peace. Please be there for all.
The wild hurricane flies, and settles as dry leaves. When the obstacle of the mind lets go, I can believe.
I’d found it, its real, and then, oh I knew. In this moment, my path was clear … with inner peace too!
And then, in a twinkling, I heard another thought. A dancing and glorious but simple little thought.
I drew into myself, and focused on what I’d found. Twas in savasana, where my inner peace can abound.
A yogi, in stretchy clothes from my head to my food. My energy beginning to clear, right down to my root.
A bundle of potential, I had within me. Just me, little me, could be extraordinary.
My eyes – now they twinkled. My thoughts, how merry. My attitude – like roses. My heart – sweet like a cherry!
My mout was now drawn up like a bow. And, my intentions within were as pure as the snow.
The stump in my thoughts, I’d held tight in myself. Had just been released, I’ve now found a new wealth.
My face, it now glowed. I’m strong to my core. I shook, and I laughed Yoga! I seek more!
On the mat – and off- yoga is good for my health! And I laugh, I laugh out loud, in spite of myself.
Another fleeting thought goes through my mead. And I realize that I have nothing to dread!
I spoke not a word, I know I’ve done the hard work. I filled myself up, now I can share all the perks.
Still laying on my mat, inhaling through my nose. I rolled to one side, and then slowly rose.
I sat on my mat, to myself I exhale. As away all stress flew, inner peace would prevail.
My final thought, as I moved from where I lay -
“Happy Holidays To All, And To All Namaste”
Here is one of the foods you’ll get to enjoy during your detox. A filling and yummy meal that leaves you satisfied
1 cup yellow mung dal
1 cup basmati rice
11⁄2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
2 Tbsp unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
1⁄2 cup water
3 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter – can get at Whole foods)
1⁄2 tsp turmeric
1⁄4 tsp salt (good quality rock salt or something similar is best)
6 cups water
Wash the mung dal and rice two times. Soak the mung dal for a few hours or overnight, if you have the time, then drain. Put the ginger, coconut, cilantro and the 1⁄2 cup water into a blender and blend until liquefied.
Heat the ghee on medium in a large saucepan and add the blended items, turmeric and salt. Stir well. Next mix the rice, mung dal and the 6 cups of water.
Bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Then cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, turn down the heat and simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the dal and rice are tender.
Although tridoshic, this kitchari is especially suitable to Pitta The cilantro and coconut add the cooling qualities that Pita needs. If you don’t know what Pitta means you definitely need to come to the Detox workshop starting March 23.http://www.sattvayogaandpilates.com/news/
From Ayurvedic Cooking, but Usha Lad& Dr. Lad
Actually not true. You have the option of eating all kinds of yummy food depending on what kind of cleanse is appropriate for you – and you definitely won’t starve.
There are so many ways to detox. You could just fast on hot water, do a juice fast, a raw food fast or a cooked food fast. The more radical fasts are suitable for some people – namely those who have a lot of body mass (Kapha individuals) – but can be detrimental for others.
The gentler cleanses are much more easeful in a way. You can still go about your day and simply adjust your food choices and daily routines in a way that supports the bodies natural detoxification process.
Some yummy recipes coming soon!
Check out the upcoming Detox 101 workshop, starting March 23. http://www.sattvayogaandpilates.com/news/
As you may know, I’m an Ayurveda geek. Ayurveda, which literally translates to mean “science of life” is an amazing healing system that I fully embrace as the way to live your life to its fullest! It’s helped me tremendously in my life, and it’s helped those that I’ve worked with as clients.
It’s wisdom can guide you in making decisions about what to eat. It can shed light on the best way to exercise. It can create awareness that will help you in relationships and other parts of your life. It can help you cleanse, heal, rejuvenate, and improve your overall being. And if you know Ayurveda, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say “What’s Your Dosha?” And, even more you’ll understand why that matters.
Thank you Dr. Oz for shedding light on this amazing healing system that has been with us for thousands of years. This system of healing and living in balance that can address so many of today’s lifestyle inflicted modern diseases.
Don’t take my word for it, check out what Dr. Oz and his experts are saying — and if you want a personalized/customized clinical consultation please let us know. We are here to guide you if you want to take yourself on an Ayurvedic Journey.
This article is the first in a series of blogs about Ayurvedic Body therapies. At Sattva, we believe in encompassing the realm of massage within a greater context of optimum health and well being. In Ayurveda, Abhyanga is the first body therapy we use in beginning to restore health to the body.
By definition, Abhyanga is a full body warm oil massage that is performed as a precursor to Pancha Karma, (Ayurvedic program that removes toxic build up in the body and mind that can lead to disease and/or unhealthy states of mind.) A result of Pancha Karma is restoration of the body’s natural immunity, clearing of toxins (ama) in the body, and rejuvenation of the tissues and health of the body. Abhyanga is the first step in any Ayurvedic detox program, and is usually followed by other equally refined treatments to improve quality of life and health.
A four handed massage, Abhyanga is performed by two practitioners, and is considered a rhythmic synchronized massage. By utilizing warm medicated oil and four hands, Abhyanga is significantly different than a Swedish or Deep Tissue massage. Having two practitioners working on one body allows both sides to be worked on at the same time, head and feet to be massaged simultaneously, and a unique experience that leaves a person feeling light, rejuvenated and completely relaxed. The application of oil in Abhyanga is essential. Oil is always medicated, as the rhythmic motions and synchronized movements are designed for optimal absorption of the medicine. We use copious amounts of this oil to ensure optimal absorption of medicine, and maximum nourishment. In Sanskrit, the word for oil is Snehana, which means “to love”. When adding oil to the body we nourish ourselves in a very deep and affective way. This is the first stage in detoxing the accumulated ama in our bodies. Snehana removes dryness in the body and creates softness in areas that are worn out or dried up. Strokes in this massage are performed for two main reasons, the first is to aid in the absorption of the medicated oil, the second is to drain ama and stimulate the lymphatic system so that it performs at its highest function. This primary function of Abhyanga massage underscores the whole process of Pancha Karma and any cellular detoxification.
Healthy function of the lymph system is important for anyone interested in creating harmony within their body. Stagnant lymph means stagnant toxins and waste that build up in the body and can lead to negative health function. Lymph is a fluid in the body that contains lymphocytes, a substance that helps perfume immune function by killing virus infected host cells tumor cells.
The lymphatic system in our bodies performs the following functions:
Aids the immune system in destroying pathogens and helps filter waste so that the lymph can return to the circulatory system. (And in Pancha Karma, waste products and toxins are trained to return to the digestive system to be eliminated through other procedures)
To remove excess fluid, waste, debris, dead blood cells, pathogens, cancer cells, and toxins from the cells and the tissue spaces around and between cells.
Works closely with the circulatory system to deliver oxygen, nutrients, and hormones from the blood to the cells that make up the tissues of the body.
Given the important functions of our lymph system, its important that we keep this organization running properly. There are two ways to stimulate the lymph into action. The first is exercise, the second is massage. Our heart pumps and circulates blood through our bodies, the lymphatic system has no pump, and is designed so that the lymph only flows upward through the body. As it travels through the body, it passes through many nodes (600-700), where it is filtered and eventually becomes plasma again, then is sent back into the bloodstream. However, accumulated toxins may stick in the lymph and/or lymph nodes may not drain properly, thus creating a detrimental cyclical process that can create long term effects on our health. Abhyanga and Pancha Karma were specifically designed to aid in the removal of stagnant lymph.
Along with carrying away stagnant lymph, there are a myriad of benefits that Abhyanga offers.
Physical benefits include:
Calms the nervous system
Lowers blood pressure
Reduces chronic pain
Reduces tension headaches
Relaxes the body
Improves skin tone
Relieves aches and pains
Speeds recovery from illness and injuries
Supports and strengthens the immune system
Loosens muscles that have been tight or overworked
Mental benefits include:
Reduces mental stress
Promotes healthy and better sleep
Induces mental relaxation
Calms bad temper
Emotional benefits include:
Provides a fantastic feeling of well-being
Minimizes feelings of depression
Increases self love and self image
Clearing away the toxicity in the body gives us the opportunity to feel great, look great, and be calm in the mind. Exercise is a very important tool to use in the clearing stagnation from our bodies. However, over the course of our lives, we tend to build up layers of collected ama, which can clog our interpretation of our life experience. Clearing the body of wastes and junk allows us to open the doors of good health and happy lives.
Beets are sweet, warm, moisten and add mass. They are an amazing way to calm Vata in the autumn – keep your mind calm and balanced, and help you poop properly (hey, elilmination is important to stay healthy. So thought I mention it here)
Preparation Time: 30 min
-V, =P, -K
4 cups raw beets (5-6 medium beets)
2 Tbsp ghee or butter
2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 Tbsp coriander powder
Wash and slice the beets in 1/8 inch slices. Steam until tender (about 20-25 min). Drain.
Melt the ghee or butter in a small pan. Put steamed beets in a serving bowl, drizzle the ghee or butter and lemon juice over them. Add coriander powder and stir well. Serve.
Comment: Beets are best to balance Vata and Kapha, as they are heating. The coriander cools the bets, making it apporpriate for PItta (especially in the fall which is the Vata season). Also, the steaming alleviates the somewhat heavy quality of the beet, making it more digestible.
Those who spend any time around me have no choice but to become familiar with a bunch of sanskrit terms, like “dosha” or “vata” “pitta” “kapha” and “ayurveda.” While we do find mention regularly in mainstream magazines like Yoga Journal, these are terms that haven’t quite made it all the way into our mainstream American Lingo.
So, what exactly is Ayurveda? Ayurveda is a natural healing system that has been successfully practiced for thousands of years as the sister science of yoga. Literally, Ayurveda means “science of life.” Originating in ancient India, this medical tradition states that each person’s path toward optimal health is unique – because each person is unique. It is based on effective, time-honored principles that focus on understanding your particular body-mind constitution and the unique nature of your imbalance.
The goal of all Ayurvedic programs is to create within your body and mind an optimum environment for healing to take place, and to maximize your body’s ability to heal itself - guiding you to your potential in mind, body and spirit.
Ayurvedic therapies include lifestyle adjustments, dietary changes, herbs, color therapy, sound therapy, aroma therapy, massage therapy and other natural therapeutics.
Who benefits from Ayurveda? Anyone seeking to improve their quality of life – whether this is to lose weight, feel better or to heal. Preventative action is always more fun than dealing with illness, and Ayurveda provides countless opportunities to improve on our current state of health. Ayurveda teaches us what foods and lifestyle practices will help us reach our personal goals, whether this is to make smart food choices or whether we want to live a more stress free life. If we are struggling with an imbalance that is slowing us down, Ayurveda teaches us how to cultivate the optimum environment for healing.
Ayurveda is not a one size fits all approach. There are no magic pills, no panaceas, and it is not a fad. If you are committed to living a healthy and happy life, you should explore what Ayurveda has to offer you.
If you haven’t noticed…. the days are getting shorter and the evenings cooler. I was cold even with a thick sweater on the other evening. I know, it is hard to believe, but summer is already phasing out. We are transitioning from the hot and dry weather to a cool, dry and more windy autumn time. This means transition time, change time. A time, when we have to be especially vigilant to keep ourselves balanced.
While during the hot summer months you might have enjoyed a raw smoothy in the morning, a salad at lunch and some ice-cream in the afternoon to keep yourself cool – it is now time to switch to more warming and moistening foods. The fall weather is drier, more windy and cooler. In order to keep ourselves balanced we need to bring in the opposite qualities to stay nourished. So that means moister foods (to counteract dry), warmer foods (to counteract the coolness) and more food that creates heaviness (to counteract the mobility of the wind). Translated into practical terms that means more warm oatmeal, less popcorn (those are light!), more grains as their sweetness provides the heaviness we need and more cooked food.
Want to learn more? Check out the Ayurvedic Wellness Bootcamp coming up October 1. A 3 month immersion where you will learn everything you need to know to stay or bring yourself back to balance!
2/3 cup dry oats, regular or instant 2 cups water ¼ tsp salt ¼ cup raisins or dates ¼ tsp cardamom powder ¼ tsp cinnamon 5 whole almonds (preferably pealed) Put above ingredients in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add rest of ingredients. Cover and cook on low heat until done (2-10 minutes), depending on the type of oats you used
Add cut up fresh peaches to warm oatmeal and let sit so that peaches warm up. Mmmhhhh……..Add 1 tsp of ghee and maple syrup to taste ENJOY!!