The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Restoring balance naturally

Restoring balance naturally

 

Yogi Bhajan once said, “Some people ask me, “You are a Master, why do you do Sadhana?” I said, “To remain a Master!”

 

I experienced 2 injuries in the last few weeks. One left me in a heap on the floor and the other challenged each breath I took. I spent 3 minutes just trying to blow my nose this morning.

I was staggered at the events and my physical state with all my years of healthful practices: yoga, nutritious food and herbs, daily meditation. I had, however, neglected the healing practices that had helped me recover from a similar injury years ago. I’ve been in a great place for a long time and slowly let my practice go.

A client came to see me last week. I hadn’t see her in a while and she was not doing particularly well. I asked if she was doing any of her practices. She replied no.

We spend time finding and creating the practices that help us feel nourished and vibrant and whole, yet often when we get busy or feel good, we drop those very practices.

If something brings us such radiant well-being, why would we not make that the most central focus of each day. Why would we let those practices slip away until our state – mental, emotional, or physical – deteriorates enough for us to need to return to those practices?

The majority of female clients that I see share a common intention: self care. But we wait until we are struggling before we seek out methods of practice.

Don’t wait. Choose your form of self-care – whether it’s yoga, qigong, meditation, salt baths, aromatherapy, dance, singing, tea, the great outdoors, writing, painting, cooking, or self-massage – and make it your daily ritual.

Choose your practice. Make space for it. And allow it to nourish you everyday, as the most important meal of the day.

Eating Sattvic: Everyday Ayurveda

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Sattvic is a sanskrit word translated to mean purity. A sattvic diet was also considered a yogic diet. Ayurveda and yoga are 5000 year-old sister sciences and feed one another.

The foods consumed in a sattvic diet are light and easy to digest. They are reported to enhance focus, clarity, energy, harmony, and a balanced mind and attitude.

A sattvic diet is easy on the digestive system and nourishing for the body, mind and spirit.

Following a sattvic diet assists with meditation by calming the mind and easing digestion. It’s difficult to settle into silence when you feel like you have a brick in your gut. Likewise, the practice of yoga becomes easier with ease of digestion.

You can play with this one yourself. See how various foods affect your own practices.

A basic principle of a true sattvic diet is “do no harm”. Any food that caused the harm of anyone during its cultivation or preparation would not be considered sattvic. With this, meat is excluded from the pure sattvic diet.

One doesn’t have to be a purist in order to experience the benefits of sattvic eating. Begin by adding more sattvic food choices into your diet and your day. Make slow and gradual changes for simple and lasting effects.

 

Simple, sattvic suggestions:

vegetables (potato, sweet potato, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, pumpkin, tomatoes, spinach, cabbages, dried peas)

fruits (mangoes, figs, pears, lemons, grapes, apples, bananas, coconut, papaya, pineapple, raisins)

legumes (mung beans, lentils, kidney and lima beans)

cereal grains (rice, blue corn, wheat, barley, oatmeal, cereals)

ghee or butter

yogurt (lassi)

fresh milk

pure honey or raw sugar

pure water (spring water is an excellent source)

nuts (almonds, pistachios)

dried ginger

This rice pudding is a great way to begin incorporating sattvic foods. Try mangoes and honey with dried ginger instead of blueberries and cinnamon. Sattvic prefers fresh to leftovers. If making a fresh pot of rice makes this dish out of the question, leftovers will do.

Incorporate a daily sattvic smoothie, a spin on the traditional lassi. Add mango or papaya, perhaps banana and pineapple to yogurt, coconut milk, almond milk or fresh cow’s milk. Add honey and a pinch of ginger. A simple, nourishing breakfast.

 

Additional sattvic suggestions:

Eat only when you are hungry. Reduce snacking just for the sake of snacking. Enjoy water or herbal teas instead.

Moderation and balance is key. Eat until you are satiated, not stuffed. Taking your meals more slowly will assist with this.

Chew all food thoroughly and slowly. Enjoy both the preparation and the process.

If you can grow your own… even better. Happy garden, happy belly.

2 Ways to Find Time for Yourself Each Morning

The early bird gets time for herself.
The early bird gets time for herself.

The early bird gets time for herself.

No time for yourself in the morning? Try these simple ways to find extra time at the start of each day.

1. Begin your morning the night before.

Anything that can be done beforehand, do it. Set out clothes and items the night before. This way you will discover the shirt that needs ironing, the missing shoe that requires a search party, your favourite skirt that you thought was clean yet sits in the laundry, or your child’s consent forms for a school trip that have been crumpled in the bottom of their back pack and need to be handed in today.

Prepare lunches and refrigerate.

Prepare fruit for the morning’s breakfast, premix the granola or any other food items to make a healthy breakfast more convenient.

Gas the vehicle, fill the bike tire, pack the back packs, set out change for the bus or train.
All these can be done in advance and require little time. Get everyone involved. If something does come up, you have the time to deal with it in the evening rather than rushing around the next morning.

2. Go to bed earlier and get up earlier.  A good night’s sleep is critical for physical, mental and emotional well being and functioning. Do not skimp on the sleep.

Do, however, skip the channel-surfing, social media-surfing, and pantry-surfing, opting instead for a nourishing nighttime routine like a warm bath, walk, or calming meditation and bed.

Waking 30 minutes earlier to set your day with a simple intention, meditation and movement will be well worth the groggy first few days. Or wake an hour earlier to write that novel you’ve always wanted to, or finish a painting or sketch, or take steps towards your dream business. Head to bed a little earlier to accommodate the shift in schedule.

Once you get used to the new routine, you will be jumping out of bed to greet the day and create it your way!

What is Real Beauty?

Do more than just survive. Thrive.

 

Real Beauty

Real Beauty

If you gave me one hour each morning and said I had to pick how to spend that hour -doing my hair, makeup and coordinating an outfit, or doing yoga and meditating- hands-down I’d pick yoga and meditation every time. Or sitting on my front step watching the sunrise, enjoying qigong on the lawn, dancing to great music…

It’s not that I don’t enjoy spending time on my hair or putting together a nice outfit and they do make me feel better about myself – as long as I am wearing them. In fact, it took me a couple years to let go of the need to be put-together before leaving the house, or dropping the kids at school without makeup and not hiding my face under the collar of my jacket, wanting to shrink into the background.

When momhood kicked in, I had to make choices about my time and I could either look great on the outside and feel crabby on the inside or spend my time on activities that allowed me to feel great about myself, which meant letting my hair dry in the sun or being satisfied with a simple coat of chai balm on my lips.

Now that my kids are a little older, I have time for both yoga and styling my hair, although you’ll still find me on my mat rather than in front of my mirror.

The difference is, regular yoga and meditation helps me feel better about myself regardless of what I’m wearing or doing. Time in nature recharges me and shows me how much beauty exists around me every day.

A post is floating around social media with a powerful message. It is an advertisement for Dove and shows a forensic artist sketching women based on their own description of themselves, then sketching them based on the details provided by others who just met them.

The Dove Real Beauty Sketches reveals a theme that – judging by the number of women I’ve seen repost the video – we are ready to change.

We are the hardest on ourselves and if we cannot recognize the inherent beauty in ourselves, how can we see it in the world around us and how can we help others to see it?

Anyone who has enjoyed a make-over knows how good it feels to see yourself at your most beautiful. It’s time for an inner make-over. One that allows us to know how beautiful we are and see that same beauty in everyone else. It’s time to choose what makes us feel good, what truly nourishes us: body, mind, and soul.

Each day when I wake I ask the question, What nourishes me today?

What nourishes you today?

Do that.

 

More than Exercise: 10 Ways to Turn Physical Punishment into Total Nourishment

Strength, balance, flexibility, awareness


Sweat and laugh every day. ~ Yogi Bhajan.
These are some of my favourite ways that transformed my workouts from feeling like a self-imposed penalty to a source of  growth and renewal.
If you’ve had a difficult time beginning regular exercise, these ten tips may make the leap more enjoyable for you.
If you have experienced an injury, overtraining or exercise addiction, these tips may help you to restore balance in your body and your self.Wherever you are with exercise, they will certainly nourish you and strengthen the connection between body, mind, and spirit.
Experiment, shake things up and, above all, have fun!

1.  Add music.  I’m not talking abut the workout playlist you created so you could run faster, push more weight and time your intervals.  I’m talking about music that inspires you to move.  Motivates you to dance.  Puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step.  Makes your knees start to groove in crazy ways they’ve never moved before, coercing your hips and feet to come along for the ride. Try some African drums or didgeridoo.  Let your whole body move and sing!  Make this spontaneous dance your workout.

2.  Go ‘au naturel’.  Take it outside.  Whatever it is.  If you enjoy your  daily run, take it to the trails.  Soak up some sun, fresh air, the colours of the sky, the trees and the scenery.  Don’t keep your focus on the feet, rather notice the detail and richness of what’s around you.  Smile at others that pass or just smile for yourself.  Absorb the sounds and the sights.  Walk near a body of water, bike through tree-lined trails, hike around a lake, swim in an outdoor pool or skate on an outside rink.  Take yoga to the deck, qigong to the lawn or tai chi to the park.  One of my favourite memories is of swimming in a large outdoor pool while on a trip through California with my Mom a few years ago. We were in Chico, a city with which we both fell in love.   It was night with only the colourfully-lit palm trees as my light.  The air was balmy and the water temperature was perfect.  As I glided back and forth from palm tree to palm tree, a shooting star brightly and quickly blazed across the clear night sky.

3.  Breathe.  The quickest, simplest and most powerful way to restore the connection of the body to the mind and the spirit is through breath.  A few minutes of conscious deep breathing before you start an activity brings your focus completely to where you are and what you are doing. Then guide your attention back to the breath as often as you can during exercise.   Every inhalation draws energy and vitality to you and every exhalation releases tension and eases you into your activity. You are completely engaged.  If struggle arises, use the breath to move your body and calm your mind.   Finish with several minutes of relaxed breathing, inhalations that draw right down into the belly and exhalations that empty the lungs completely and drop the shoulders, melting in full release.  Make the art of breathing your exercise of the day.  Consider learning a breathing technique like sitalibreath of fire or alternate nostril breathing to add to your daily routine.

4.  Hydrate with herbal water.  Add a bit of fresh or dried herbs or a weak herbal infusion to your water bottle.  Choose invigorating plants like mint, cinnamon, ginger, orange peel or cardamom for an active outing or soothing herbs like lemon balm, chamomile, rose or lavender for your evening walk or yoga practice.  Enjoy a single herb, make up your own blend or use your favourite prepared herbal tea.  One large fresh mint leaf added to a water bottle is very refreshing on a long hike, ride, run or yoga practice.  Chilled coconut water with a little lime is a cooling drink on a hot day and provides much needed electrolytes that may be lost during exercise.  The taste, scent and effects of the herbal water will engage your senses and enhance your experience.

5.  Set an intention.  This one I have lovingly borrowed from the practice of yoga.  Before beginning your activity, perhaps while you are engaged in your deep, full breathing exercise, ask yourself what you would like to set as the intention for your activity.  This can be goal oriented but rather than go for a personal best, how about going for a personal cause.  Try dedicating your activity to another person who needs help, or a group.  Often when I am engaged in a solar plexus chakra practice, performing 108 heart presses or sun salutations, I break it up into sets and dedicate each one.  It’s fascinating where I can draw energy from when I dedicate the merits of that energy to a specific person, cause, humanity or the earth.  Or simply set an intention for enjoying the activity or your surroundings, your co-participants, your breath, your day, your body, nature, life.  Is there something you’ve been struggling with?  Put that issue out there and see if a response hasn’t formed by the time you’re finished your routine.

6.  Connect.  Grab a buddy or small group and take a lesson in something you’d like to try; belly dancing, acro-yoga, african dance!  Adding a friend may reduce the cost of classes while providing motivation, support and someone to share a laugh.  If you are used to doing an activity on your own, occasionally join a class or group and enjoy meeting new people or simply soak up the energy and support of community.

7.  Find stillness.  Take time at the start of your exercise to be still. Engage in breath, intention and connect to your surroundings and how you are feeling physically and mentally.  Ask yourself what you need from this particular activity.  What is the best way to nourish yourself this day.  This may shift your exercise, directing you towards something more conducive to optimum wellness.  Trust this process and go with it.  Let your body reveal what it needs.  After the activity, spend time in stillness.  No thoughts, don’t review, critique and judge your performance.  Know that it is complete and let it be.  Stillness can be enjoyed in meditation after exercise or while in long-held stretches, allowing total surrender of your body and mind with every exhalation in the stretch.  Breathe, release and continue your day renewed.

8.  Add energy.  Learn and practice yoga, tai chi or qigong.  Milleniums-old techniques were developed precisely for guiding us towards wellness and connection of body, mind and spirit.  Focusing the mind, breath and movement into one synergistic dance, these practices lend themselves to both an individual and community setting.  Providing a daily tool for self assessment and correction.  Even if your activity of choice is completely different, incorporate one of these energy-based disciplines into your daily routine.  Fifteen minutes morning and/or evening is a gift you give yourself of a balanced start and end to each day.

9.  Play.  A game-centered activity like hopscotch or jump rope with the kids sounds fun.  When’s the last time you played tag or leapfrog?  (Wow. I just googled ‘leapfrog’ and got pages of hits on computer games.  For those who don’t remember or never played the physical activity game of leapfrog, here’s how: leapfrog rules.)  Take up a recreational sport in your community.  Tennis, swimming, baseball, basketball, soccer, beach volleyball.  Also a great way to meet people and learn new skills.  Laughter and play are beneficial to our health and effectively engage us in the present.  What did you play as a kid?  Revisit it, just keep in mind, you may not be quite as agile or flexible as you once were… safety first!  Hula hoop!

10.  Give back.  Start or join an event that gives back to the community.  Whether it’s an organized spring trash clean up or a 10k run for charity.  Perhaps a yoga class in a senior’s home or an outdoor games day for underprivileged kids.  Initiate, co-create, join in or volunteer to connect through movement in your community.

Here’s an idea for an activity that encompasses all ten tips;  Outdoor yoga with a large group, intentions and donations going to charity, you and a friend with your bottles of herbal water and yoga mats in hand as you get set to experiment with playful poses accompanied by live guitar and drums.

Namasté


What ways do you use to nourish yourself?

Over three years ago a doctor told me that, given the nature of my spinal injury, I should be shuffling around in pain. I remember thinking, Now, why would I ever want to do that?  He asked me what my secret was.  Many of them are listed above.

I won’t tell you all days are pain-free, however, there is very little shuffling around going on.   Life is good!

Stephanie
atONE Holistic Living