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Becoming more You – Riding the waves of change

I’m happy you are here! Building the capacity for inquiry is important for our positive evolution. We must learn to discern, evaluate and adapt our yoga and life practices to serve our current needs.

Yoga is a personal experiential practice to me, and my practice is woven within me in a way that brings a comfort that I would find hard to explain. Yoga is personal but it isn’t necessarily solitary. The many beautiful souls and wise people I learn and evolve from, the shared conversations and practices and the time spent in community all make my journey such a joy and a gift. My teachers, students, family and friends all make up my experience where I explore how to become more “me”. I am thankful that you all hold me in your sphere of influence and allow me to learn, grow, question, succeed and fail. If I want to make changes and I am unsure how to proceed I speak with my teachers, my friends and other professionals. I look to make the best decision in the moment, and I endeavor not to “put up” with a lack of function or a physical or emotional difficulty. I want to build new positive patterns.

Do I fail? Yes, I mostly fail, but with each effort I make I am building successful patterns.

Yoga and Ayurveda tell us that everything that is manifest is in transition. The seasons change, our body makeup changes, our mind and thought processes develop and decline. So, if this is the case, why would we keep our practice the same season to season and decade to decade. If we are always changing, then what is best for us is also changing. Then we must try to be aware and in the present to help us make the best decisions and to adapt and grow. Don’t get me wrong, we must have a sustained regular yoga and meditation practice, but we must also evolve with our changing needs. Jumping from idea to idea isn’t a great or productive tactic and it will not serve to help us develop efficiently. That is why during the change of seasons, it is a natural place for me to take a pause and make small thoughtful changes.

I am always evaluating what might be best for me, but during these natural transitions, I take time to evaluate my practice to help me serve my higher purpose and improve my lived experience. I have many considerations I think about to help me evaluate.

As an example, I consider some of the following. You can also take some time to consider your answers to these questions and how your practice on and off the mat is helping you enjoy and manage the ups and downs of your life?

Do I:

-recover and stay balanced with the joys and the sorrows of life?

-have an injury that is not healing?

-feel like I am going in the same circle?

-feel inspired and joyful?

-sleep well?

-generally feel sluggish, or restless?

-feel my body is feeling energetic and without discomfort?

-startle easily or do I feel numb?

-have a good digestion process?

And:

-How is my relationship with myself?

-How are my relationships with others?

-Is there an activity or experience that I would like to do that you can’t do now?

The many practices of yoga are there to help us improve our lived experience. For me, I allow myself to rest in a quiet space and to see how I am truly feeling. Then I make changes to my practice. The considerations I make are not just the change of the seasons but for everything that is happening in my life. Sometimes I get things right and sometimes wrong, but I always make a conscious effort to continue to be patient with myself and others as I navigate becoming the most fulfilled and at ease in my skin that I can be.

One small piece of this change is how our personal doshic makeups and experiences are affected by the seasons. We are moving into Vata season (fall and winter) and this is where we look to counteract or balance the drying effects of the Vata time of year. I make some small changes such as changing my diet from fresh salads to warming soups and stews, and the root vegetables that are in season. I make sure I practice nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breath to balance my bodies and mind making me feel more less scattered and safer.  I incorporate warm oils in and on the body make me feel less achy and dry.

There might be changes you have made that have served you well. You intuitively knew what you needed. Take some time to consider what you need. Consider this statement in a heartfelt way and away from the cognitive process of the mind. You are looking for your ego to not be involved.

Take a moment in quiet meditation where you can rest in the space of acceptance and perfection. There, your most inner needs will unfold. Remember to listen.

Thriving through the kapha time of year

Spring sows a sense of renewal within us. At this time we become acutely aware of the feeling deep within ourselves to move our bodies and to cleanse all that has accumulated through winter.

Kapha season is defined by moisture, softness, and denseness. The earth is awakening. This is the unctuousness of the earth brings growth and transformation. These qualities are needed. However, the qualities that are naturally presiding in kapha can present challenges for the individual if we are not in balance. We must be mindful not to encourage through lifestyle choices that enforce the qualities of kapha such as heaviness, dampness, and congestion.

Often at during the kapha season we take the time to cleanse the body. Just as the earth is becoming soft and moving, so is our bodies and minds. During the kapha time of year there is a tendency toward congestion, runny noses, and colds. Those who are kapha dominant can struggle to maintain balance at this time of year. Consider if you are in balance within your own doshic constitution before making any large changes to work with the seasonal considerations.

Generally, in spring we look to move away from eating warm, heavy stews and consider lighter, cleansing choices for meals and snacks. My friends, my students and I have talked about how we often feel hungry in spring. The need to feel satisfied and content is a hallmark of kapha. We must listen to our bodies and choose to nourish ourselves differently. I include dandelion tea in my diet during spring which is very cleansing and also wonderful for pitta constitutions. Ayurvedic doctor and teacher Dr. V. Lad recommends avoiding dairy and cold drinks and to incorporate legumes, ginger, cinnamon, spinach, honey and spices. The spices should only be incorporated if they can be tolerated within your constitutional makeup as hot spices are agitating to vata and pitta dosha constitutions. Too much oil is Kapha promoting, ghee or clarified butter can be used instead. Light meats are suitable but heavy dark meats and seafood should be avoided as they are heavy on the system.

The kapha season is a time of renewal, to clear away stagnation and to sow the seeds to move into the growth and focus of purpose in the summer. Kapha must have stable nutrients for health to be maintained through the hot, focused, and intense time of the summer. Without a foundation of support and unctuousness from spring, we could feel frazzled and irritated when the demands of the heat of summer are upon us.

Beyond food we can support ourselves through this season by incorporating physical movement and activity. Without the heat of the pitta season, now it the time to find ways to move. I am a proponent of finding something you love to do that is suitable to your health abilities. It could be dancing, cycling, swimming, or hiking. Check with your physician if you plan to start something new. If you love your yoga practice, consider warrior poses, back bends and lateral movements. This is the time to also enjoy a beautiful sun salute practice and long strong holds in your poses. Breath practices needed for this season are cleansing in nature. Consider Kapalabhati or bhastrika breath. Both are cleansing and promote a sense of lightness to the body and mind. You can also consider a hasta mudra or hand mudras which balance that heavy downward movement.

Being mindful is key. Notice what you are feeling in the moment and if you are choosing food, activities and thoughts that increase the heaviness you desire due to the time of year. Take pause and see if you can lighten your meal and move your body to stoke the fire to decrease congestion and the feelings of stagnation in the body and mind.

Winter Yoga Offerings

I am grateful to be teaching several interesting yoga workshops and series this winter and we have some dates and space to hold a community meditation class for charity. These will happen once per month. Please bring a donation for our local Beyond Yoga charities.  Check out what is organized to date.

I am going to have a wonderful winter! Come join me.

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Recipe -The Art of Less Cinnamon Sweet Potato Soup

The cat is out of the bag. I love sweet potato. I realized the last recipe post I put up was also sweet potato based. While the last soup was spicy and warm, this version is calming and satisfying. It is also even more simple to make with fewer ingredients.

I appreciate simple flavours. We tend to over complicate our food – we feel the need to make it “fancy”. More and more, I like uncomplicated cooking and flavours.

I have come to realize that while I don’t dislike cooking, it is not the highest on my list of my preferred things to do. I prefer hanging out with people, being outside, exploring yoga, teaching yoga, travelling, working with wool and a whole host of other things before I enjoy cooking. I do like the result of cooking and I am always happy when I have made something tasty, and healthy.  In yoga, I am always looking for efficiency for myself and my students. This recipe ticks those boxes.

In this recipe, paprika is the little gem and it is based on a a couple of different recipes that I had found and amended. I use my pressure cooker, which I would highly recommend but the soup can just as easily be made on the stovetop with a little extra time.

As always, there are some options for this recipe. I prefer it with chicken stock but it is just as good with veggie stock or even water. I have also made it without garlic and it was still lovely. However, if I were to make it with water again, I would add more oil/ghee and paprika and perhaps some turmeric. In the spirit of keeping it simple here, is the recipe.

Simple Cinnamon Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

1 Medium Onion (chopped)
3 to 4 Medium to Large Sweet Potatoes (cubed)
1 clove of Garlic (chopped)
2 tbl. Oil (olive, coconut, ghee)
1 teaspoon of Salt (dependent on the stock – less with high sodium stock)
Pepper to taste
4 cups (give or take) broth (chicken, veggie) or water
1/2 teaspoon (rounded) Cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoon Paprika

Directions

Heat oil in pot or pressure cooker. Add onions and heat until the onions are translucent. Next, stir in garlic. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cinnamon and paprika. Stir and cook for another minute. Add sweet potatoes, and the broth.  Typically the broth will just cover the sweet potatoes.

Heat under pressure for about 20 minutes. If you are using the stovetop it will take about 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Boil until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked and slightly cooled. Use a wand, food processor or blender until the soup is creamy.

Garnish with a bit of ground cinnamon. Enjoy.

Fall Potluck Lunch at Blue Bamboo

The last pot luck get together was great. So great that we are going to do it again! Join us for some hanging out, chewing the fat, community time and perhaps finding different foods and recipes we might like.

All are welcome.  Please feel welcome to bring a friend to our little BBY gathering. The more the merrier!

Be sure to write the ingredients down for those who have restrictions or desires. We will start gathering after the last morning class on October 4th at 11:30 at Blue Bamboo Yoga.

PS: Whoever brought the beets last time….they were very, very good. Hint, hint, hint.

 

What is a Bandha?

A Bandha is a subtle energetic action or lock with the intention of retaining and directing agni (energy) in the body. The use of Bandha intensifies the agni, and specifically moves the agni in the pranic or subtle body. Bandha is to be studied and practiced with a teacher.

There are three main locks or Bandhas. They are the Jalandhara Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, and the Mula Bandha. Jalandhara Bandha is physical and energetic lock at the throat. Uddiyana Bandha focus in the area between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. Mula Bandha concentrates on the area between the navel and the pelvic floor. Employing all three of the locks creates the great seal of Maha Bandha.

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