Kitchari: Sattvic Goodness

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If you’ve ever been introduced to the yoga sutras or Ayurveda, you might have heard of the phrase Sattva. Sattva is one of the three Gunas (qualities) humans naturally cycle between. The other two are Rajas and Tamas. Rajas is fiery, anxious, and over stimulated while Tamas is lethargic, heavy, lazy, and stagnant. Think about a past meal that was really spicy, did it leave you feeling rajasic? Or how about after a thanksgiving meal where you over ate? Did you find you were you tired, sluggish and it was hard to do much of anything? That’s tamasic. Sattva, however, is balanced, pure, and clear minded. It is a quality that can be achieved by many different tasks and doings, but one way to bring the body into Sattvic balance is to eat a Sattvic meal. Kitchari is just this! It is designed to help digestion, cleanse and strengthen the organs, and bring the body into a state of wholeness.
Ingredients:

1 cup Mung Beans

1 cup Basmati rice

2-3 Tbsp Coconut oil or Ghee

1 yellow onion

1Tbsp fresh ginger

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cardamon powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

A pinch Pink Himalayan Salt

Optional:

2-3 carrots

1 large head of broccoli

Optional toppings:

Lime

Cilantro

Nutritional Yeast

Greek Yogurt

Serves: 4-6 Servings

Time: 45min

To start off, get one large pot and one medium pot. In the large pot bring 3 cups of water to boil. In the medium pot bring 5 cups of water to boil. Add the rice into the large pot, stir it, bring the temperature down to simmer, and cover your pot. Do then same thing with the medium bowl, adding the mung beans. If you have a slow cooker/crock-pot your can put the mung beans in there, filling the pot to the top with water, put on medium-high and let cook until the beans are a soft, saucy mix. This will take a few hours.

While the rice and mung beans begin to cook, take out a frying pan and add coconut oil or ghee. Next, chop up the entire white onion, place it in the pan and put on medium heat. Add chopped carrots and broccoli here. Then add shredded ginger (best if graded on fine part of a cheese grader), and all of the spices listed above. To be honest, I never measure out these spices, I just add what feels appropriate. So do the same, feel free to mix it up and add more or less. The dosage above is just a good outline.

Continue to stir your pan here. Bring down to medium heat and cover with a lid for a few minutes. Once you’ve done this, give your rice and beans a stir. The rice will probably be done by this point, but the beans will need a bit more time. Remove from heat. Add coconut oil to the rice and a pinch of pink himalayan salt. You’re veggies are probably done by now, too. Add them to the big pot of rice. Continue to let your beans cook until all the water has evaporated and the mung beans are soft. Once ready, add them to the rice pot and stir everything together. Sprinkle a bit of salt over the entire pot (not too much!) and you are ready to eat kitchari, my friend.

Add toppings of your choice!

Enjoy ❤

Leave a comment bellow to let me know what you think!

 A Response to Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic

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My mornings are very similar to those of Darren Main: The alarm goes off before the sun arises: it’s time for practice. I’m awake, but my eyes have not yet opened. I begin to weigh out how badly I really want to practice today. I think to myself, maybe I’ll sleep a little bit longer instead…. This thought never wins out. Eventually I get out of bed and turn a regular living room into a sanctuary lit with candles and incense. After my practice, I feel infinite and peaceful, as if nothing could shake me of this truth. But just like Main, the world hits me with a harsh reality. Whether it’s conflicts at work, a sour conversation, or just a multitude of little things not going my way, the ego flares up and the momentary bliss is gone. This is the life of the Urban Mystic: a spiritual practitioner and devotee who has one foot with spirit and one foot in the physical world.

This state of being between two worlds sets the grounds for Dharana, one of the eight limbs. Dharana translates into concentration. It has been described to me that one who embodies Dharana is like a candle flame that flickers in the wind and then continuously comes back to center. As yogis of the modern era, we are asked to do the same. The world continuously will distract us from our path, but we must choose to recenter ourselves as the flame within us bends one way or the other.

For me, this is one of the most important concepts in Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic. It reminds me of one of my favorite excerpts from Nichala Joy Devi’s book The Secret Power of Yoga:

“Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart.

The lotus flower has long been a symbol for the unfolding of spirituality. It is one of the most elegant illustrations of the meshing of our human and Divine natures. 

The lotus seed is planted and grows in muddy waters, below the surface of the lake, far from the light. Though the light is murky and clear, the flower blossoms by drawing energy from within. As the bud passes through the muddy waters, it lifts its face to the sunlight and finally emerges. Miraculously, not a trace of soil remains on the flower. It lives in the mud yet it is not affected by it….

Yogah Citta Vritti Nirodahah. Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart” (Devi 16).

We see from both Main and Joy that the ability to draw the attention back comes from continual practice and focus within. No matter how hard it can be to get out of bed or to take a breath in the midst of a heated moment, as yogis we have the opportunity to continually choose between the two words: like the lotus flower whose blossoms face the light, but whose stem is rooted in the darkness. From our position we see that both light and darkness have created out beauty, our strength, and our faith. We are living examples of the lotus flower. It is our choice to be affected by the mud or to shine our face towards the light, to drift from our path or to continuously choose to come back to it.

Sources:

Main, Darren John. Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic. Forres, Scotland: Findhorn, 2002. Print.

Devi, Nischala Joy. The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras. New York: Three Rivers, 2007. Print.

Photo credit: Damiane McMillen

How to Make Sunshine in a Glass

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For all you wild juicers out there or for those who need that extra pick-me-up in the morning, here is the ultimate green drink! Now this green drink is not for the light of heart. The beauty in its ingredients is that most of them should be and can be wild crafted, even in your back yard. So here is goes:

Ingredients:

3 Milk Thistle Leaves*

1/4-1/2 cup Mallow Leaves*

1/4-1/2 cup Dandelion Leaves*

1 Red Apple

1-2 tablespoons honey

1 Lemon

Serves 1-3 people

*Wild Crafted 

Basically, you throw all the ingredients in a blender and go. However, be sure to peel your lemon (leaving the seeds in is okay). There’s no need to do anything with the rind or the core of the apple, just cut it into slices and keep it as it is. You may want gloves or tools to work with the milk thistle. This recipe only works with fresh Milk Thistle, not dried or powdered. Once all the ingredients are in the blender, fill it up about 3/4 of the way full or until all the greens are covered. Next, be sure to strain your juice! This is very important to separate the pulp from the liquid, mainly because our bodies can’t digest the Thistle leaves and it could do damage to the body if you intake a large quantity. But there you have it! A Wild Crafted cup of Sunshine! I know it sounds bit weird and hardy, but I promise it is so delicious! ❤

dandelion mallow-plant Milk_thistle_flower

Dandelion                                    Mallow                                        Milk Thistle

Images from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silybum

http://www.ediblewildfood.com/mallow.aspx

http://www.tuffturfmolebusters.com/lawn-care/weed-control/dandelions/

When Aama Met Josh: A Tailored love

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I met Josh when I was working at my town’s local Co-op. He worked in a nearby shop and came in for his daily cucumber and broccoli. He had the kind of magnetism that made you turn a head when he walked into a room. I remember the first day I saw him, I immediately turned to my co-worker and said, “Who is this person and how can they be in my life?” Sure enough, about a month or two later, we started dating.

At the beginning of our relationship, I brought everything I knew about love to the table: I came with a tool box full of every rom-com, song, poem, TV show, and past relationship I’ve ever seen or experienced. It was like taking this huge block of clay and engulfing him in it. Hoping that something would stick and flatter him. However, as time continued on and feelings began to deepen, our love became more tailored to one another. No longer was it this general, broad, media-bred love, but instead a love that was real. A love that had been whittled and carved to fit what each other need in a partner.

Loving another in this way has given us the room to come to one another when we don’t feel fed by the relationship. Doing this gives us the chance to reflect on our actions and grow as individuals as well as partners. When there is space to be authentic then truth will emerge. Now, this is not to say that we have a relationship where nothing ever goes wrong, but it certainly gives space to express ourselves when things do. It can, in some ways, feel like a trial and error approach. And in some ways it is! The idea is that if something doesn’t work, you throw it out. Let your love be maluable like clay and your patience be the steady and guiding hand. This will surely lead to growth and self discovery through your partner.

Interestingly enough, with this concept love isn’t really a one size fits all. The way I love Josh is different that how I love my mother, my father, my best friend, and very different than how Harry loves Sally because each one is different and fundamentally requires different types of love from me. So I encourage you to share your experiences of love. How do you like to be loved? Have you experienced this in a relationship? Did it work? Did it not? Tell me the way you love or ask questions! I’d love to hear it!

Shanti Prem ❤

when Aama met Josh

Josh & Aama

Firenze, Italy c. May 7, 2015

Image From: http://www.whichfordpottery.com/throwing-pots

No, I’m Not Sorry: A Path to Self-Love

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For the past year, I’ve been battling with the question of self-love: Do I love myself? What is self love? How does one achieve it? How do you know that you have it if you do?

In fact, this weekend I was out in the woods pondering this very question: What is true self-love? As I began to think about what it means to me, I couldn’t exactly pinpoint how I was not loving myself, yet I knew that I didn’t fully. And so today, I went to a kickboxing class. It was only my second one and I was very nervous. I wanted to get everything right and perform as well as the other students. Throughout the class I kept telling my partner “I’m sorry.” I must have said it about 50 times in the first twenty minutes. With loving eyes my partner just looked at me and said, “Girl, you gotta stop saying that. You don’t have anything to apologize for.” Her word hit me like a seven combination punch. I realized how I have continued to diminish my self-worth, my stances, and my opinions in my life by continuing to say “I’m sorry” for things that I don’t need to apologize for.

I think the act of overly saying sorry is a deep seeded issue that is rooted in our culture and upbringing. Birthed from the idea of  original sin, we have subtly and not-so-subtly invested in a Western Culture that believes our very existence is something we ought to apologize for.

For me personally, however, I think this is only one part of the puzzle. Even still, I couldn’t believe how empowering it was to hear that I didn’t need to be sorry. So with every thread of doubt — even when I had to bite my lip– I stopped saying I was sorry. Every time I threw a punch, I let me fist scream for me, “I am not sorry and I have nothing to apologize for!” It was a silent victory and one I am pleased to share. ❤

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~Marianne Williamson

Let Go of All Your Efforts: The Continual Practice

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When I first found my devotional practice, I have to admit I yearned to be enlightened. For me that was the ultimate goal. The Sutras speak of the Siddhis and benevolence that is obtained by the enlightened and I wanted it so deeply. Ever fiber of my being wanted to know what the great sages know and become untangled from the intensity of day to day life.

When I asked one of my teachers how to become enlightened, he replied,”Enlightenment is like a joke, it’s like a fish looking for water….We are all one, so really, when you think about it, either we are all enlightened or none of us are enlightened.” I sat with knowledge for a long time, understanding it, without knowing how to incorporate it into my life.

As the seasons started to change, I let my practice slip away along with my ideas of enlightenment. Now that I have come back to my practice with new breath, I see that my goals have shifted. Enlightenment is not what draws me back to my practice day after day, I don’t take my breathes with the hope of finding nirvana in the apex. So if enlightenment is not the goal what brings me back?

Well, today when I came to my meditation practice, anticipating my feelings of boredom and reluctancy which often appear halfway through, I recalled Iyengar’s words in Light on Life about how enlightenment is not the goal of yoga. I prepared to lie down for Sivasana and decided just enjoy my time with myself, regardless of whether or not I would enter into deep meditation. As I made myself comfortable on the ground, my awareness went to the sounds around me. At first, I could hear everything clearly and suddenly the noises began to fade until I was no longer present to the happenings around me. I had slipped back into united consciousness. I opened my eyes and realized my efforts and wantings were the very thing that had been standing between myself and my Self. That this practice is indead a practice. It is a practice that yields great rewards, but the rewards are often unanticipated. In the sutras, they say the fruit of yoga sewn from the devotional heart is freedom, and ultimately love. And that is what brings me back. It is the thread that stitches my temperament, fears, and worries into compassion, understanding, and lightheartedness. It is the sweetness between the inhale and the exhale, and those fleeting moments of clarity and truth scattered throughout my day.

My teacher often says, “Let go of all you efforts.” It took my about one hundred times of hearing that before I could, but I suppose that is why they call it a practice.

When Life Gives You Lemons

We’ve all had those days…. The sours days that you wish you could just delete from the record or a string of really bad days that leave you feeling beaten and dejected. And sometimes it seems like everything just rubs you the wrong way. As a yogi, or as someone generally trying to be a decent person, when someone aggravates you almost want to skip over the anger. We try to cool our ego with compassionate lessons we’ve been taught: “Oh, we’re all one,” “They are just mirrors of my personality, so I’m really just aggravated by myself,” “They are doing the best they can,” etc. But, regardless of our best efforts we may still feel anger, and that anger turns to guilt and self-hatred. Before we know it, we have turned on ourselves. Unable to offer the same compassion and forgiveness that we are trying to give to someone else. And as the ego continues to churn out terrible thoughts, we are left with a choice: to either continue to run the hamster wheel of hatred until it spins out of our control, or find it with in ourselves to be with our emotions as they are. Sure, it is true we are all one and we are only hurting ourselves if we fail to see the fault within others is also a fault within ourselves. But if you can acknowledge that and, further more, accept those emotions as they arise, well…that is power my friend, and true self love. We do not have to be the angelic, passive, everything-is-always-fine yogi, because that is not our truth. Part of the beauty of yoga is being able to be firmly rooted in Satya (truth) and our truth is that we are beautiful human beings who are doing the best we can at our own level of awareness at any given moment. We find our lemonade in the sweetness of our own truth, emotion and owning ourselves as we are, regardless of whether or not we label that state of being as good or bad. So own your anger, and your bad days, and sit with it the thoughts and emotions as they arise with in. See what part is you, what part of it is ego, take the passive state as the observer, and when the anger and frustration ensue? Own it. Love it. And make lemonade.

Light on Life

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Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself.   ~Bhagavad Gita

The last year of my life has been a mixture of both great pain and great wonder. I started the year off in Nosara, Costa Rica where I was certified by Marianne Wells in Hatha yoga. When I came back home from this delightful experience, I was fully immersed in my practice. Every day, with great enthusiasm and devotion, I took to the mat. Intermingled with knowledge of Ayurveda, holy texts, meditation and chanting, I had a daily routine which would last up to two glorious hours. I was in love. Yoga consumed every part of my life with welcome arms and moments of ecstatic and spontaneous elation. 

As the summer blossomed I was working a series of three jobs, an internship, and I volunteered as yoga instructor. My practice was evident in my life, in my manner and in my speech, but my actual time on the mat began to diminish. It was not until the fall, once school had begun, that I lost touch with my practice. Papers began to take president over breath work and sitting in lecture halls replaced my practice of asana. As you can imagine my elated nature began to deflate and my energy began to dwindle. Five months passed like this until my well was dry and I was feeding off of what felt like my own soul. My absence of practice had left a void in my life that lead me into the depth of the shadow self. My kind and patient nature became one of depression, confusion, and unruly ego-feeding. Thus creating a life of discomfort.

The following summer began to bear the fruit of my shadow self: every aspect of my life could no longer be served by my absent practice and demanded modification. My life at work, my choice of career and how to pursue it, my relationships, and my living situation were all up for grabs by the hands of change. It seemed pain was within every encumbered decision and clarity was no where to be found. In Iyengar’s book Light on Life he writes a passage which explains the intricacies of suffering titled Pain: Finding Comfort Even in Discomfort. He begins this section saying, “Pain is there as a teacher, because life is filled with pain. In the struggle alone, there is knowledge. Only when there is pain do you see the light. Pain is your guru. As we experience pleasures happily we must also learn not to lose our happiness when pain comes” (Iyengar 47). It was with this knowledge that my perspective began to adjust. I remember one of the first ways this knowledge was re-introduced to me. I was invited to an Ashtanga yoga class that was taught by my soon-to-be mentor. I didn’t know it at the time, but this class was one of the first dominos to fall in the series of events that would lead me back to my spiritual practice. During this class, the instructor lead us into what seemed to be a version of Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Forward Fold), only in this variation we were instructed to heal-toe our feet as far away from one another as bearable and lower our forearms to the floor. The pain was real and mind consuming; the kind that stops your breath from flowing with ease and causes your body to shake. I look up to hear my teacher say, “This pose is just like life, right? It’s so painful and uncomfortable, but it’s all about how you approach it.”

In Light on Life and on the mat a new concept had been introduced to me: the idea that intense, heat building yoga was not solely meant to tone the abs or strengthen the legs, but also to create an uncomfortable sensation that teaches us to go beyond the visceral pain of they body and enter into the meditative mind. As yogis, we do this because “practice is not just about the pleasurable sensations. It is about awareness, and awareness leads us to understand both the pleasure and the pain” (Iyengar 48). Recently, I have been able to gain elements of this lucidity. I have begun a mental practice which reminds myself when I reflect on a trying moment that it has passed: it is no longer something the mind has to endure. Thus, I am able to take the role of the observer and can allow the rumination to dissipate and, consequentially, ease the tortured nature of the mind. Iyengar and the reintroduction of my practice has reminded me that “If you can adapt to and balance in a world that is always moving and unstable, you learn how to become tolerant to the permanence of change and difference” (Iyengar 48). Including those pieces of change that carry elements of hardship and mental or emotional suffering.

When I first came back to my practice, I would go to classes where the teacher would by chance say something to the effect of giving gratitude for your life or this breath and it would cause me to cry, for I knew I had spent the last several months forsaking my life. My mind was so wrapped in the webs my ego had spun, I could not even see past the illusion long enough to be grateful for one breath. Surely, it is no coincidence these experiences happened on the mat. Yoga seems to have a way of putting a bright mirror in front of ourselves, which can unveil shocking and painfully disagreeable qualities. However, “It is not just that yoga is causing all of this pain; pain is already there. It is hidden” (Iyengar 49). Even so, the presence of pain can be a welcome visitor. Iyengar moves to speak in this passage about the difference between good and bad pain. He describes good pain as something that is arduous and leads you towards greater growth, compassion and understanding, whereas bad pain can be misdirected, disheartening, and selfish (Iyengar 50-51). As Iyengar expands on his ideology of pain, I am reminded of my favorite poem by Rumi titled The Guest House. In one of his verses he muses: “Be grateful for whatever comes [A joy, a depressions, a meanness,/ some momentary awareness comes/ as an unexpected visitor]/ because each has been sent/ as a guide from the beyond.” It is for this reason these experiences of pain have become my most cherished moments of my life. I have begun to see new love for the parts of me that harbor pain and darkness because they are the reason I no longer have to be afraid of it. Iyengar says “There are only two ways to confront pain: to live with the pain forever or to work with the pain and see if you can eradicate it” (Iyengar 49). These bouts of circumstance that have elicited pain in my life have caused me to see that there is no way out, but through. Like the variation of Prasarita Padottanasana, the things that can elicit some of the greatest pains are not only temporary, but can also lead to the greatest of joy. And again I am reminded why I practice yoga, “not just for the enjoyment…[but] for ultimate emancipation” (Iyengar 52).

Citation:

Iyengar, B.K.S. “Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom Paperback – September 19, 2006.