Winter Wellness

It’s cold outside but that doesn’t mean you need to get a cold!

Is winter wellness something you’d like to experience more of? Want to have more tools in your kit for when you feel a little sniffle coming on or a bit under the weather?
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Ayurveda, Kitchari and the Holidaze

Tis the season to stray from the healthy lifestyle that you practice 11 months out of the year. Ayurveda teaches us that enjoying life and not being too rigid is essential for a high level of well-being. The healthier you are the more you can afford to (very) occasionally indulge! If your work or family life during the holidays involves more parties and chocolates than feel natural to you, you can still create balance during this hectic time of year by eating kitchari, Ayurveda’s prized healing dish, several times per week. You’ll also greatly benefit from regular yoga, massage and shirodhara as well of course!

What you’ll need:

• good heavy bottomed saucepan or crockpot
• 1/2 cup basmanti rice
• 1 cup split yellow mung beans (moong dahl) or baby red lentils
• 4 1/2 cups water
• 2 cups of veggies
• 2 T ghee
• 1/2 T fresh ginger, chopped
• 1 tsp each mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry blend
• 1/4 tsp hing (optional)
• sea salt 1/4 tsp or to taste
• fresh lemon or lime for garnish
• cilantro to garnish

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Wintertime wonder

Here in Alaska we have been in full-on winter mode since the middle of October so while we have plenty of time to get used to the season the transition is not always an easy one.

Inward vs Outward

Last week I was thinking a lot about the season (as our winter travel plans were postponed) and how it offers an opportunity to settle into a rhythm and routine in synch with nature. If we take a cue from nature it would appear that the season is about paring back, simplifying, going inward and strengthening our roots. While this seems relatively obvious looking at a snowy scene, bare tree branches and empty gardens, it is easy to get caught up in habits and happenings that pull our attention outward: holiday parties, shopping, over-scheduling and over-spending.

Peeling Back the Layers of Stress

In order to make the most of my long up-coming Alaskan winter I realized that I needed to physically de-stress in a big way. A few things were making it obvious, not the least of which was my tendency to overreact to minor stressors (a dead giveaway sign of high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream). I schedule some down-time, un-plugged from social media and the internet, received three shirodharas, ate an easy to digest sattvic diet, upped my time in restorative yoga postures and otherwise took great care to nurture and soothe my soul. These practices were TREMENDOUSLY helpful at softening my outlook on life sweetening up my perspective.

Welcoming in Winter

But I was still not really warming up to the idea of winter…until I spoke Read the rest of this entry »

7 ways to get grounded now

I’ve been getting lots of reports from friends and clients (oh yeah, and some personal feedback too) that indicate that many of us are feeling less than fully grounded in the now right now.

This time of year, air and space (together forming the Vata dosha in Ayurveda) are especially prevalent in nature.  This means it can be an especially fruitful time spiritually (because of increased access to the ‘etheral realms’).  However, if we are not really grounded, instead of being able to make the most of this time around equinox we are often left a bit out of sorts, ungrounded and easily tossed out of center.

Sound true for you?  Even if you are feeling 100% grounded in your spacious awareness, experiencing deep abiding contentment as your default state, you too will enjoy these lovely practices.  If not, take some time to nourish yourself.  Either way, pick two that you feel inspired to do this weekend.

1. Soak your feet.

This is a simple, easy and very effective way to ground yourself.  Get a plastic dishwashing tub (nice because your feet can spread out flat) or the biggest bowl you have and fill it with warm water.  Add a cup of Epsom Salt (best) or Sea Salt and whatever herbs or spices you have handy.  Good choices:  lavender, chamomile, ginger, peppermint.  A great option is to open a bag or two of your favorite tea, like the Tulsi Tea from Organic India that we carry at Anahata, or any herb tea and add it to the water as your tub or bowl is filling.

2. Go to Maui.

While Hawaii does sound lovely, especially for us Alaskans, what I am actually suggesting is the wonderful restorative yoga pose that I have heard described as ‘going to Maui.’  For this variation of Viparita Karini, or legs-up-the-wall pose, simply place your legs on a padded chair or your sofa, at a 90 degree angle.  Make sure to keep your chest open by rolling your shoulderblades under you and turning your palms face up. Cover your eyes with an eye pillow and provide support under your low back and/or neck as needed for maximum comfort.  Relax and enjoy the grounding, restorative effects of this mini-vacation.

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Fall into Yoga with Ayurveda

It might be a little silly, but I am totally enamored with the idea that the title of this post (and my upcoming workshop at Laughing Lotus of Anchorage) conveys.  As we create the ‘right conditions’, i.e. balance in our physical body through living well, yoga or ‘union’ is something that we just fall into.  When our habits of separateness soften, we surrender into our oneness with divinity.  As Sharon Gannon says, yoga isn’t something we do, it’s who we are.

Fall is a beautiful time in Alaska…but is a time when some extra care goes a long way.  Most of us have spent the summer working and playing hard, accumulating a lot of extra pitta or heat (it doesn’t just come from hot weather but also drive and hard work).  If we’re not careful we’re prone to ‘burn-out’ this time of year!  However, as we approach the equinox, everything in nature is supporting our return to balance so it’s a great time to incorporate more Ayurveda into our daily lives:

- be sure to take advantage of the abundant garden greens and include them in at least two meals per day, but reduce salads to the level of garnish or small side-dish. Try sautéing or steaming greens and  add a little ghee and a squeeze of lemon or lime to garnish.

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Warm summer, cool delicious-ness

The fish are jumping and the fireweed is high! We might have a short summer here in Alaska, but we’ve had some weather nice enough lately to get me going with some of my favorite cooling summer recipes. In general, summertime is Pitta season, so to avoid building up excess heat, minimize hot and spicy and favor cool and sweet in your diet. Delicious mock-tails like the one below can help with the Pitta-pacifying goal of minimizing alcohol. In Alaska, these recipes are best in the warmest parts of the summer….elsewhere, enjoy with abandon!

Cool Summer Mock-tail

Place about a teaspoon of maple syrup (to taste) in the bottom of a tall glass.  Squeeze in the juice of a half a lime or so.  Top with carbonated water (my favorite is San Pellegrino). Skip the ice.

Garnish with a thin slice or wedge of lime, a mint leaf, a couple berries or even edible flower petals from your garden. I even enjoy the carbonated water at room temperature myself, but cool from the fridge might be more to your taste (or appropriate depending on your ‘room’ temperature!!).

Best-Ever Fruit Salad

Cut up whatever fruit you have around, that is ripe and delicious, enough to fill a large bowl.  I used bananas, peaches and navel oranges.  In that large bowl place about a half a can of organic coconut milkRead the rest of this entry »