Pose of the Week: Humble Warrior

Humble Warrior.jpg

Humble Warrior

BADDHA VIRABHADRASANA

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

~Ernest Hemmingway

The humble warrior teaches us to bow down to our efforts and our strength with grace and wisdom. The warrior with in us all teaches us all when to fight for what we believe in, when to stand for peace, and how to find the balance between the two.

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Stretches lungs, chest, & shoulders
  • Opens heart
  • Releases tension in the spine & neck
  • Strengthens & stretches arms, thighs, & calves

Asana Breakdown:

Start off in Warrior II. Take your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers. Open up your chest by drawing your shoulder blades together and your hands down towards the earth. Square up your chest to the front of the room and begin to bow forward. Allow your shoulder to rest or line up with your front knee as your hands continue to reach towards the sky. Breathe here. Relax the neck and create a micro bend in your arms.

 

Pose of the Week: Peaceful Warrior

Peaceful Warrior.jpg

Peaceful Warrior

SHANTI VIRABHADRASANA

“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path. There is no path to love. Love is the path. There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.”

~Dan Millman

After the incredible amount of violence this week, it only seems fitting that the pose of the week would be peaceful warrior. I love that traditional yoga often centers around the warrior postures. It reminds us, we do not need vengeance to be strong. We do not need to inflict pain upon another to be triumphant. It reminds us that we do not count our victories as the number of wars have defeated on the battle field, but rather the amount of wars we have overcome within ourselves.

My heart goes out to those suffering right now at the hand of another. I feel so removed from that reality, I can only say this: The war stops externally, when the war stops internally. Peace is a choice. And it is possible. Do not lose faith. Do not lose your smile to grief. Draw inward and we will be triumphant. ❤

om shanti om shanti om shanti om.

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Strengthens the Legs
  • Stretches abdominal muscles and engages core
  • Stretches and supports the lungs
  • Opens Chest & Shoulder
  • Opens Heart

Asana Break Down:

Come into Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), check your alignment with the front ankle. Make sure it is in alignment with the arch of the back foot. The back foot should be flat at a 45 degree angle. Bend deeply into the front knee. Make sure your front knee does not go past the front ankle. Draw the thighs together, squaring the hips, as if they were being pressed between two panes of glass. Arms should come out directly from the shoulder blades. Turn the hands towards the sky and bend backwards. Back and highly presses into the back leg. Most of the strength is being drawn from the core; the weight is not on the back knee. Open the chest and the heart lifts and spreads. Front arm comes over head, gaze comes towards the sky or the thumb.

 

Above, I have a chant you can say out loud or silently to yourself, either in this posture or sitting quietly. Om shanti translates into “om” the divine universe and “shanti” translates to peace, as a phrase it means may the divine creator, energy, and wisdom grant eternal peace to all things.

Yes And…

Through Back to 2013 when my roommate helped me put together this beautiful video for my final in my Yes and…Improv class my freshman year at Ithaca College.

It was an amazing experience, the class was centered around the reading of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Julia recently gave a talk at the Health Coaching program that I am in and it inspired me to share this video with you all.

Hope you enjoy ❤

Stuffed Carnival Squash with Cheesy Millet

squash and millet

Hello Vegetarians and veggie-eaters! It’s officially cold outside and the day of smoothies and cooling food have wained their way into the season of warm foods and root vegetables.

This meal is affordable and filling so eat up because you can make quite a bit!

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Ingredients

Squash:

1 Carnival Squash

Salt

Pepper

Spike Seasoning

Vegan Butter

1/2 lemon

Filling:

1 Cup Spinach

1 Portabello Mushroom

1/4 Cup Yellow Onion

1 clove Garlic

1 tbsp Olive Oil

2-3 tbsp Tamari

A pinch of Salt

A pinch of Pepper

Feta Cheese

Pine Nuts

Millet:

1/2 Cup Millet

1/4 Cup Mozzarella

1/4 Cup Sharp Cheddar

1 tbsp Rosemary

Salt

Pepper

Salad:

Red leaf Lettuce

Carrots

Purple Cabbage

Add Dressing of Choice

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Optional: 4 hours to 1 night before, soak millet in water with a pinch of salt. When ready to prepare the meal, strain millet through fine mesh strainer and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take your squash and cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Take a spoonful of vegan butter and place it in the center of the squash. Placing the squash skin-side-down on a baking pan, sprinkle salt, pepper, and spike over the squash. Place in the oven for 45 minutes.

When timer goes off for the squash, turn off oven. Flip squash over, skin-side-up, and let it sit in the over until dinner is ready to be served. You’ll notice it looks like the moisture was taken out of the squash, turning it over spreads out the butter and brings some of the moisture back.

Take out a small pan and place one cup of water in it on high heat. Once water boils, add millet and turn down to medium/low heat and cover with a lid. When the millet has cooked completely (takes roughly 10-15 minutes), add in cheese, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Stir frequently and keep on low heat till cheese has melted completely.

Meanwhile, Prepare Salad.

About 10 to 15 minutes before squash is ready, take out a frying pan and pour olive oil in the pan. Cut up onion and mushrooms and place in the pan on medium/high heat for 2-3 minutes. Once the onions have caramelized, add chopped spinach, garlic and tamari. Cook for another 2-3 minutes with lid on. Turn off heat, cover with lid, and set aside until squash is ready.

When squash is ready, squeeze lemon on top and add in filling with pine nuts and feta. Dish out salad and millet and serve.

Mistakes: A Step In The Right Direction

It is a misconception to think any one of any stature is ever free from the capability of making mistakes. Mistakes can arise from even the most sincere intention or the smallest lapse in judgement. The importance of mistakes is that they give you feedback and new direction.

Growing up, I was a girl who strived for perfection and deeply criticized myself, my worth, and my merits if I did not meet the impossibly high standard I had set for myself. Interestingly enough, I did not have parents who pressured me to act this way nor was anything else in my surroundings urging me to do this to myself. It came from with in. This unfathomable fear of being wrong. I would say today I can at least pat myself on the back for not being a perfectionist, but I still do strive to answer the question, “What is the most right?”.

I remember this summer, I briefly took a job as a barista at my favorite coffee house. I really had no business being there, however. I knew nothing of coffee, nor did I even drink it myself. On one of my first days, I kept making a series of mistakes that lead to lots of spilling and clean up. I was so embarrassed, but relieved when I apologized to one of my co-workers who replied, “That’s okay. Mistakes are where life happens.”

Even recently, when I moved in with my partner — a move I may not have truly been ready for in my heart, but quickly learned to adapt to — he said to me a quote of similar nature: “Mistakes are unavoidable so you might as well have fun and enjoy the ride.”

Naturally, the part of my brain that has in some way or another programmed itself to strive for perfection was being overrided by the notion that a mistake could possibly been a good thing.

Mistakes are bound to happen. They hurt ourselves and they can hurt others, but they are ultimately how we learn, where we grow, and are what makes our journey unique. I recently lost a job I cared about deeply for a careless mistake, a mistake compatible to that which you make on a math test and think to yourself, “Really? I can’t believe I forgot to do that!”. It’s with a heavy heart that I step away from there, deeply regretting my actions. But I’d like to think that nothing happens without reason. Even mistakes. Yes, even mistakes are divinely orchestrated and can lead you to exactly where you need to be.

This post isn’t to say that you should purposefully make mistakes, but, perhaps, when you do make them, give yourself some room to breathe. Give yourself permission to mess up because that’s where life happens. When you find yourself in the midst of self-ridicule try to change to tone to one of self-compassion and have a little faith. Even though, you may feel deeply sorry for your actions, trust that all is as is because the universe is as is. And, ultimately that it will be okay. Have trust in your actions and faith in your merits. ❤

Pose of the Week: Hanumanasana

Lord Hanuman Pose

HANUMANASANA

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Stretches groin, hips, & thighs
  • Opens Heart
  • Strengthens & improves functionality of abdominal muscles
  • Increases flexibility of hips when practiced frequently

Asana Breakdown:

This pose requires great flexibility and strength and definitely requires a bit of a warm up before getting into it. Personally, I keep this posture till one of my final poses, to ensure that I don’t hurt myself and can get the most benefit out of the asana. For preparation, I like to start off in Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Hanuman/Half Splits). To begin, start in Downward Facing Dog. Inhale one leg into three legged-dog, exhale step it in between your legs and bring your back leg down to the floor. Begin to straighten the front leg, allowing your foot to come off the floor, resting on your ankle. Begin to melt your heart closer to your knee and breathe here. This is the traditional prep pose for Hanumanasana.

Once you feel comfortable here, you can begin to ease your front leg forward and extend your back leg on the ground behind you. Straightening both and coming into full Hanumanasana. Here, you want to square your hips as much as possible. So let’s say your left leg is forward, take your attention to the right hip and begin to draw it closer to the front and allow for an external rotation in the the back leg. Lengthen the spine and allow the collar bones to lift and spread.

This can make the pose uncomfortable. The best way to ease int this pose from grace here is to use your hands as leverage and pull your groin a few inches off the ground. Drawing the thighs in closer together, you will begin to get deeper into the pose as well as your hips. Practice here, until you can comfortably remain in the traditional expression with integrity. From here, you can start to play. Options including, bending the back leg and grabbing the foot, reaching arms up over head or leaning forward over the front leg.

Be Here Now

being

Being is not knowing. I first heard these words from Harville Hendrix, PhD and it struck a chord in me. As a yoga teacher and someone who wishes to pursue a spiritual path I have found that spirituality has seasons. There are many days where I don’t want to practice yoga or I don’t want to sit and meditate. That’s just human. But knowing is not being. So knowing the Sanskrit of a pose and all of the minute mechanical movements of each asana, is not the same as showing up on the mat with an authentic, devotional heart. It’s not. I know because I have spent so much of my life living outside of the present that I have become so cerebral in my practice that I sometimes practice without heart. Knowing is not being. Yet, being is knowing. To show up in your life in each unfolding moment is a beautiful and challenging thing. Become what you seek. For what you seek is surely seeking you. It may not find you through the mind however, but through the heart instead. How do you become what it is you are seeking? I once asked this question through the lens of spirituality having seasons to a guru of mine. I said, “It seems to me like spirituality has seasons. Some seasons are abundant and I feel a deep connection to source and my practice. Other seasons feel depleted and I don’t want to practice at all. How do I continue to flourish when my practice is full and honor it when it is weak?” And he replied, “Spirituality is like a tree. It does not bare fruit in every season, but it needs to be watered every day.” Where can you water yourself more in this life? How can you become the most authentic version of yourself? 

Knowing is not being, but to be is to know. ❤

Let Food Be Your Medicine: Candida Cures

Candida Cures

During the Fall and Winter I tend to eat lots of sweets, basically from Halloween through New Years. And I think so do a lot of other people…. Unfortunately, in addition to exciting your taste buds, these seasonal eating habits add unwanted weight to the body and unwanted bacteria to the gut which can lead to imbalances in the body, namely Candida. So many people experience symptoms and side effects of Candida but they don’t even realize they have it. Common symptoms include: depression, anxiety, crying spells, low libido, poor memory, nausea, indigestion, stomach aches, athlete’s foot, hives, persistent cough, mucus in throught, sore throat, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, PMS and menstrual irregularities, yeast infections, and much much more1

The harsh reality is that everyone has Candida and most people experience one or more of these symptoms. In my unprofessional opinion I recommend doing the diet for one week to one month this holiday season will dramatically improve your health, your gut flora/bacteria, and your overall happiness in your body.

I, myself, recently found that I was experiencing a variety of Candida symptoms and am going on the diet for the next month. It’s a bit challenging as a vegetarian, and I will admit some rules will be broken for the sake of improving my health. But if you’re a strict vegetarian who may be experiencing these symptoms, don’t be scared away! You can still do the diet and be a vegetarian.

I’ve noticed that there is a huge emotional battle that happens when you try to rid the body of Candida, so just be aware of that. It’s like have the devil sit on your shoulder and tell you that not eating sugar is wrong. My guess is that this happens because your body is going through sugar withdrawals and sugar is 8x more addictive that cocaine.

Up above I took a picture of my groceries for Candida Care:

(From the left) Celery, Broccoli, Vaginal Yeast Suppositories, Salmon, Artichoke Heart, Olives, Sesame Seeds, Almond butter, Kyolic Garlic Supplement, Free range eggs, Plain Kefir, Zucchini, Zucchini squash, Lemon, Spinach, Candida Care, Licorice & Peppermint tea, Miso Soup, Quinoa, and Plant Based Abult Probiotic.

Being on the Candida Diet means not only avoiding sugar, but anything that can turn into sugar including: Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Honey, Wine, Alcohol, Bread, Oats, Pasta, Fruit, Carrots, all cured meat products, and so on. If nothing else, getting on a good probiotic will help a ton, but unfortunately not as much as giving your body a break from the sugar overload.

The only two things that are not food are the vaginal yeast suppositories and the Candida Care Tincture. The suppositories are for women, they are made up of boric acid and tea tree in gelatin capsules. They are inserted vaginally as needed. As a women, let me tell you, in my experience, they are the fastest relief to any irritation downstairs. The Candida Care Tincture promotes healthy intestines, heals the body of Candida albicans overgrowth, and supports the immune system and contains, Desert Willow, Usnea, Echinacea, Milk Thistle and Chaparro Amargosa. The tincture is taken orally and is a great addition to the other supplements useful on this diet/cleanse.

Yeast Suppositories:http://dancingwillowherbs.com/vaginal-yeast-suppositories.html

Candida Care: http://dancingwillowherbs.com/candida-care.html

To get recipes, Do’s & Don’ts, and more information about Candida follow the link bellow:

http://www.thecandidadiet.com

Sources:

  1. “The Candida Diet.” The Candida Diet. Perfect Health, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Please note that any and all posts on this blog do not substitute for professional medical help, diagnosis or treatment.I am not a health care provider my any means. The content provided on this site is designed to be used for informational purposes only. The content is based on personal experience and outside research. 

Pose of the Week: Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog.jpg

Downward Facing Dog

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA

Ego says,’ Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.’ Spirit says, ‘Once I feel peace, everything will fall into place.'” ~Marianne Williamson 

Benefits of the pose:

  • Decreases Stress & Mild Depression
  • Wakes up the body
  • Stretches shoulders, hands, spine, & calves
  • Strengthens hands, arms & legs
  • Relieves insomnia, headaches, and back pain
  • Helps with digestion

Asana Breakdown:

I want to take you a little farther down this path than maybe you have gone before. Practically everyone has done Down Dog at least once in their life, but I’ve found a lot of people, myself included, don’t really know how to do it. I had been practicing it for about 7 years before someone showed me how to properly do it. Here’s what I mean: Begin in table pose, flat back, hips stacked above knees, shoulders stacked above ankles. Curl onto your toes and lift up your legs. And allow your hips to move both upwards and backwards. This is about as far as people usually go, but wait, there’s more! From here, Root down through the first three knuckles of your palm so that they touch the mat. Allow for an external rotation through the shoulders. By this I mean that your collarbones should move away from one another, and that your shoulders should physically turn outward. Usually, this compromises the tailbone and causes the chest to beam forward. Correct this by energetically wrapping your ribs into your sternum and tucking the tummy inward. Check to make sure you haven’t compromised your hips, continue to move them upwards and backwards. Now, for the final element of the posture: feel an energetic pull between both of your forearms as if they were moving closer together. Put all of this together and you, my friend, have yourself a downward facing dog!

For a visual break down check out my youtube video: https://youtu.be/Zn3-XJlBltU

As always, leave any questions or comments bellow! If you have a request for the next pose of the week let me know! ❤

Sources:

“Downward-Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana – Yoga Pose.” Yoga Journal. Cruz Bay Publishing, 28 Aug. 2007. Web. 16 Oct. 2015.

Gratitude: An Infectious Way of Thinking

gratitude

When I was younger, I used to suffer from severe depression. I expressed my sadness to my father one day and said, “I feel so depressed all the time and I don’t know why or how to stop it.” With loving eyes he handed me the sandalwood Mala you see in the corner of my yoga mat. He said,”take this and every time you feel sad, hold a bead and think of one thing you are grateful for. Keep moving through the beads and your saddness will go away.” And he was right. So now every time I practice I keep my Mala in the corner of my yoga mat to remind me that happiness is a choice and gratitude is the key component in making it a part of our everyday life. I’ll admit, I still struggle with depression. It haunts me all the time. When I drop into that place it’s nearly impossible to be grateful or find anything to have gratitude for. But, for me, it’s just another part of the practice. Being a yogi doesn’t mean happy all the time. Being a yogi means making a continue choice and using continual effort to express truth and find divinity within the aspects we find to be most human and banal.