Sunday, September 18, 2011

7-Day Ayurvedic Fall Detox

Today marks the end of my 7-day Ayurvedic Fall Detox, and I feel fabulous. This whole foods cleanse was accompanied with yoga practices, pranayama exercises, cleansing tips, reflection and meditation to prepare my body for a winter of health and vitality. Fall, a time when the winds begin to blow and cold starts to settle in, is considered the vata time of year; a time marked by instability and change that can effect our well-being. Cleansing now can help align your body with this changeable season, so you’ll move into winter from a strong base.

I had a full week of slowing down, warm food, and self-care. I've learned quite a few things about myself during the week and will definitely continue some of the practices:

I spent a lot of time in silence. It was beautiful listening to the kids play outside in this sweatshirt weather.

I woke up earlier than normal to get a relaxing yoga practice on, while my morning porridge and tea were warming on the stove.

I stayed in most nights and went to bed at 10pm. I meditated in bed each night before I drifted off.

I journaled a lot (many emotions were coming up but lots of clarity was there as well).

I massaged my whole body with sesame oil before every shower. Such a treat!

I realized how good warm (temperature) foods/drinks feel for my body as the weather changes.

I felt so balanced mentally and physically. Struggled with some food cravings the first few days but was so satisfied from the amazing/healing food I was consuming.

I was overwhelmed with such calmness. It was so beautiful.

Below are my delicious meals and teas that I prepared for myself throughout the week.
I NEVER got sick of them, especially the kitchari!!!!
My kitchen was a mess of Ayurvedic herbs, seasonings, cookbooks and healing goodness all week long!!! Made my first batch of ghee a day before the cleanse began, so fun!
Delicious and ever-so-healing kitchari on the stove. This is a staple dish served at every ashram I've ever been to at each meal. It's my favorite, and now I know how to make it and ALWAYS will! I've put my own twist to this recipe, so stay tuned!
Morning spiced quinoa porridge following my morning yoga and meditation practice. If I didn't spoon this out into a bowl and put it away, I could have easily ate the whole thing...just sayin.'
Lunchtime kitchari with fresh coriander chutney. Lightly steamed veggies on the side with half an avocado sprinkled with some pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Sipping on my fennel/cumin/coriander tea after to help digest, while journaling in silence.
Kitchari dinner with fresh cilantro and a side of steamed veggies on the side. A hearty cup of potassium broth on the side too!

(*Imagine a picture of a crispy, amazing organic apple here, with some almonds next to it*)
Sweet snack was apple slices with almonds. The reason there are no pictures is because as soon as I would cut into an apple it would be gone within a few minutes. SO good that I didn't even have the time to part from it to grab my camera!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vegan Chic - Not Tested On Animals

Early last spring my lovely and talented friend, Harmony, blogged about an outfit I put together on her gorgeous blog, Closet Chic. Shortly after she featured an article of mine on how to throw a chic & healthy potluck soiree. Now it's my turn to feature an article she put together on Vegan Chic! I've been eagerly awaiting her animal-friendly fashion-finds for this fall so that I can feel guilt-free when shopping for my favorite - boots! Enjoy Harmony's chic article below and be sure to check out her blog and follow Closet Chic on Facebook!

Vegan Chic- Not tested on animals.
Fall is my favorite time of the year where the weather cools, leaves change colors, and pumpkin spice coffee is available everywhere. Let’s not forget the most important part of fall is of course your fall wardrobe and the fun of digging through your attic and retrieving all your fabulous lost cowl neck sweaters, cashmere scarfs, and leather boots. Until recently when I was asked to do this vegan piece, I never really thought to myself just how much “animal” we actually wear during the colder months. My task was to find your classic fall staple pieces while making sure they are animal friendly or Eco conscious finds. I think all my vegan and even non-vegan friends will appreciate these great looks that that are animal friendly and will also help to reduce our carbon footprint!
Here are my top tips for your animal friendly fall wardrobe:

1) You can never go wrong with “Leather Inspired” pieces! You get the look and the feel of leather without sacrificing an animal. Free People offers a nice selection of leather inspired vegan pieces.

Nordstrom’s Big Buddha Bag features: A supple faux- leather satchel topped with double rolled handles. The animal-friendly style is also 100% vegan.

2) For those that just have to have leather try opting for a pair of boots that is made partially with leather and 100% recycled components such as lining, buckles, etc. all while being produced in an ethical and environmently friendly manner.
Zappos Features: The Earthkeepers™ collection contains durable, high-quality footwear made in an environmentally-friendly way.

3) Buy Bamboo! As far as clothing goes look for 100% organic cotton or better yet bamboo fibers. Bamboo is a great sustainable and renewable source, which grows faster and stronger than any plant and we most likely will never run out of bamboo EVER!

Revolve Clothing Offers 100% organic and bamboo cotton pieces.

4) Another great way to get your leather fix is to try shopping for great vintage bags or boots. You get to wear leather and one of kind pieces and this way no additional animals are harmed and it’s a great way of recycling and reducing.

Check out these Etsy vintage finds:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Swami Sivananda's Birthday

Om Namo Bhagavate Sivanandaya!

Today is the anniversary of my guru, Swami Sivananda’s birthday.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Swami Sivananda that remind us how to live a Divine Life:

"Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize."

"Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success."

"Thinking of disease constantly will intensify it. Feel always 'I am healthily in body and mind'."

"There is something good in all seeming failures. You are not to see that now.

Time will reveal it. Be patient."

"Practice meditation regularly. Meditation leads to eternal bliss.

Therefore meditate, meditate."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Healthy Fall for All

As the air turns crisp and the kids are headed back to school, take a moment to commit yourself (and your family) to a healthy Fall. Things tend to get a little hectic with the change of season, especially with work and the holidays in the distance, but this is actually the time of year we need to slow down. It is time to gather, store, organize, and wind down from summer's high tempo and the relentless forward momentum that modern living usually demands. As the days grow shorter, it's perfectly okay to allow yourself more time to rest since your circadian rhythm is shifting, along with the earth's. This could mean going to sleep a little earlier, waking up a little later, even taking a catnap in the afternoon. Focus on you and your family’s health, so you can really enjoy the Fall. Try these tips below:

Get it together.

Take a lesson from your kids as they prepare for a fresh new school year with their new outfits, school supplies and excited attitudes. Start fresh like they are this month by recalling back to your new years resolutions, working on that project that you keep putting off or committing yourself to a goal you lost track of. Organize something in your life, whether it is a closet, a cabinet, your desk area, your bathroom, a kitchen pantry, your files, etc.

Schedule in self-care time.

Schedule in at least one hour per week of self-care to focus on yourself and let go. This can be curling up and reading a book, scheduling a massage, treating yourself to a pedicure, taking a long walk outside, journaling, etc. Work on a project that you’ve been putting off, cook a meal to soft music and enjoy it by candlelight. Write in your calendar when you'll do these things or set your phone alarm to remind you so that you don't let them fall to the wayside! You deserve it.

Work it out.

Aim to work out at least 3 times a week (if not more!). Aerobic activity improves the exchange of oxygen in your body to keep your immune system strong and your lungs clear, which is important during this time of year. No matter what your physical activity of choice is, just be sure to do it. Get outside for a nice walk. Crunch those fall leaves under your feet, get a whiff of wood smoke, and watch the colors change!

Enjoy healthy, seasonal foods.

Make an effort to embrace the Fall through all of the abundant seasonal foods. Think of creative ideas for healthy snacks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts. Dice a crisp apple in the afternoon and toss it with ground cinnamon and nutmeg to satisfy your sweet tooth. Keep a log of any recipes you and your family enjoyed to make again or to share with others. Spread the goodness and healthfully welcome Fall!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Dacha Project: Complete Sustainable Living

My brother, Sam, recently went on a trip to his friends' place up near Ithaca, New York. This is the third year he's gone to visit and every time he gets back I have endless questions because it isn't any old house or apartment, it is the Dacha Project. Below he writes of his experience because it is oh-so unique and wonderful!

Vast green hills and valleys line the winding roads with the bright sun shining through a cloudy blue sky. A few barns scatter along the sides with the occasional group of cows or horses; a clear indicator that I'm close. Pulling up to the driveway about a mile down North Wood Road, a friendly little sign reading "Dacha" painted in purple greets you. Up the bumpy, curvy gravel, you see some baby trees that were planted the first year the Dacha was started. After a slight bend, you arrive at the house. It is a sustainable home that runs on veggie oil and one solar panel (eventually they plan to run fully on solar energy). It gets its running water from a well. This house is entirely off-the-grid; the power goes out in Freeville, NY, and my friends have no idea. This house was built by 6 of my friends who got an idea to create a space for creativity, love, and environmentally friendly endeavors in the beautiful area right outside of Ithaca, New York. The word "dacha" is a Russian word (2/3 of the crew are Russian) roughly meaning a retreat home within nature.

Along with powering their own home, they also grow fuel for themselves. An abundant garden filled with kale, peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, and other veggies supply them with staples for cooking. Every morning I was there, we had potatoes and veggies cut up and cooked with eggs that were from the hens who live around the corner. I don't consume dairy, but if I wanted to, there was fresh milk--that had been squeezed by my friend early that morning, I might add--from the cow who lives down the path in the neighbor's yard. My friends don't buy these products from their neighbors, they trade. They'll give the neighbors veggies, a helping hand, or they volunteer to herd and take care of their animals in exchange for eggs and milk (and whatever else they might need). That's how it works up there: The barter system is in full affect in Ithaca and the surrounding areas. "You need some help with your car? Perfect. I know a guy who is a mechanic and could use some extra hands moving into his new home." It's pretty incredible. Of course, the most incredible part of it all is being able to live on a completely sustainable system, right down to the food you cook for dinner.

Every piece of the Dacha is a product of hard labor from these 6 people and their loving, devoted friends and family whom they welcome to come visit year-round. Whenever I go, I always bring my tools and make it a point to help them with whatever project they happen to be working on. I receive so much love, energy, and enlightenment from the Dacha and the people who inhabit it that I want to give back; it's a peaceful give-and-take. That's what makes the system work so well.
- Sam Forney

Monday, September 5, 2011

How do you "Center Your Health?"

I named my health counseling and yoga business after a short phrase that encompasses so much in just 3 little words: Center Your Health. Health isn't just about how well you eat, but also about how much you exercise, how much time you devote to self-care, how much energy you put into things like your career and relationships, and overall how well you take care of your health. My practice comes from a holistic standpoint, meaning that I incorporate an integrative approach to health and wellness. I believe it's important to nourish your body, mind and spirit. In doing so, we improve the quality of our lives resulting in an overall feeling of health and happiness. So, below are the 3 ways that I center my health on a consistent basis. What are yours?

How I Center My Health:

1. Each morning I roll out of bed and onto my yoga mat where I allow my body to move however it needs to. Generally, this means a few rounds of sun salutations followed by some gentle stretches and maybe an inversion (I love to stand on my head). I then sit in silence for anywhere from just 60 seconds to as long as 30 minutes (depending on how much time I have or how I'm feeling) and breathe deeply. I follow my breath, listen to the silence (or the birds chirping outside), silently repeat my mantra until I awaken with a smile and give gratitude to all of the countless blessings in my life.

2. I prepare wholesome, real foods from the Earth each day and drink plenty of water. A whole foods diet healed my IBS and anxiety disorder and continues to heal me whenever I need it to. When I eat real food, my body is balanced meaning for me: I sleep well, have my stress under control, experience healthy regularity (wink, wink), can think more clear and concentrate each day as well as have lots of energy! Basically, whole foods allow my body and mind to function at their best. The energy and love that I put into preparing the foods I eat nourish my body and soul on such a deep level. I also enjoy sharing food I've prepared with others so that they get a healthy dose of "Vitamin L." It's such a beautiful thing.

3. I do what I love, each day. Whether it be my job, practicing yoga, taking a jog around my lovely town, visiting with friends or family, journaling, playing with food in the kitchen, creating a piece of art, etc. I like to think of filling each day up with as many wonderful things as I can, or at least making the best of every experience so that I'm living the best life possible! On the days when I'm not so gung-ho, I'll jot down some things that I'm grateful for in my gratitude journal by my bed. This always ends with me drifting off to sleep with a smile because even when there are patches of grey in our lives, we still have SO many things to be thankful for.

Now it's your turn. What are the 3 ways that you Center Your Health? Post your ways below or jot them down for you to keep somewhere as a reminder to care for yourself on all different levels and live your best life!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Looking for Calm? Spray Some Rescue Remedy!

Those of you who are close to me have probably had me offer you a spritz of Remedy Rescue when you seemed stressed around me. I swear by this stuff and never leave the house without it. If you are known to get anxious and need something natural to take the edge off and bring you back down, read up on Rescue Remedy and pick up a bottle (or pastilles) at your local health food store. Hopefully you'll find just as much relief as I do from it!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Slow Down at Meal Time

We live in a fast paced world. People are on the go, multi-tasking, planning and thinking ahead. In a busy world, people also eat on the go; in the car, at their desks, standing up, walking down the street, barely taking the time to enjoy their meal. When we eat quickly, we tend to eat more, therefore consuming more calories.

 Digestion begins in the mouth. Slowing down to completely chew your food, allows the release of digestive enzymes that break down food and greater assimilation of nutrients. Whole foods, especially whole grains, must be mixed with saliva and chewed until they become liquid to release their full nutritional value. Because digestion becomes so efficient when you chew your food thoroughly, your body will begin to feel wonderfully light. To get into the habit of chewing correctly, try counting the chews in each bite, aiming for 30 to 50 times. It helps if you put your fork down between bites.

 The New York Times reported on a few scientific studies to support the claim that eating slowly is a method for consuming fewer calories. Who could imagine that losing weight is as simple as taking a few more minutes to slow down and eat what is already on your plate?

5 Tips to Slow Down at Meal Time:

  1. Take 3 deep breaths before your meal.

  1. Place your fork down between each bite, or use chopsticks to eat.

  1. Chew your food at least 30-50 times before swallowing.

  1. Savor the flavors and textures that are happening in your mouth.

  1. Eat in a calm, relaxed atmosphere as often as possible.
Information adapted from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.