Interpreting Nature to Allow Healing (Summer Prediction)

MH900438097Snow on May 1st in the high elevation desert here in Fort Collins, CO was not something I would have guessed, but mother nature knows how to take care of herself, and you.  Wet snow is one of the most affective ways of hydrating the desert without causing a flash flood. 

“Our bodies mirror the changing seasons.” -Shiva Rhea

Just like in our bodies we need hydration, but not chugging a bottle of water.  Drinking smaller amounts of fluid through out the day is much more affective and making sure you are getting plenty of healthy oils and fats to keep the hydration in your cells.

The snow also gets rid of weak trees and branches, to help reduce kindling, for possible upcoming fires.  The random snow also causes the trees to have to rebud allowing them to be stronger, work harder, and produce more resilience. 

Two things can be taken away from this for us: 

1.  The snow is allowing us to be more resilient at fighting off viruses, and allowing us to calm down, take a break and regenerate  from all the effects of the fires that increased  respiratory issues, before spring allergies truly start.Bean Sprout

2.  The animals are eating a lot of extra sprouts and roots, which we should copy.  *Sprouts are common for the spring but the continued snow and then regrowth has caused even more.  The cold has caused the tubers/potatoes and winter vegetables to be sweeter and knocked out the beginning of fruit season.  (Spring is usually marked as a Kapha season, but the overall  crazy change in weather is considered Vata.)  The sweet root vegetables allow Vata to ground and the dense sprouts help counteract the Kapha and increase prana.

Fresh Gourmet Salad

*You can buy sprouted pumpkin and sunflower seeds  and dahl at the store, or try sprouting on your own.

Let me know in the comments below how you are dealing with the weather?

Spring into Energy and Good Digestion

MP900227568Spring is almost here (March 20th), there have been tiny glimpses of the warming weather.  Spring is Kapha (Earth and Water) when the ice thaws and causes mud and built up pools of water draining off the streets.  Everyone has at least a little Kapha in them, the more Kapha traits you have the more Spring will affect you, causing mucous (mud), lethargy, melancholy and water retention (excess water).  All of these Kapha symptoms cause a dulling of the digestive fire because of  the excess water and earth quality.

10 days before Spring, March 10th marks daylight savings.  The increased sunlight, allows us to be more active to counteract the spring, but it can also cause a disturbance in your digestive system as well.  As the time change sets into effect, your meal time automatically becomes out of alignment, with no fault of your own, shifting forward an hour.  That means that if you normally eat at 5pm your digestive fire is now strong at 6pm.  But don’t worry your digestive fire will figure this out, but it may take up to a week.  This may feel like a sluggish digestion, or feeling your food after you eat it.

Move into Spring with ease:

Roasted Fennel Seeds– Eating this neutral spice before meals helps stoke digestive fire.  If you have more Kapha symptoms you can use dry ginger instead, to remove ama (toxins) and congestion.

Cooked greens, especially Kale- Greens are a natural source of fiber removing ama (toxins) and keeping bowels moving.

Fish Pose/MatsyasanaThis pose is great decongestant for the lungs, increasing oxygen flow and enhancing your mood.  Start laying on your back.  Place palms under sit bones or next to hips palms down.  Push through the forearms, hands and elbows as you lift your heart towards the sky, as if you were being poked with a broom between the shoulder blades.  Feel the biceps rolling outward allowing the shoulder blades to engage down the back.  (This action also activates Marma Points, (Ayurvedic pressure points) at the crease of the arm, where the shoulder and body meet, increasing lung capacity and oxygen absorption.)  Engage the legs pointing through the balls of the feet.

yoga fish

Modification:  Start Sitting with legs extended.  Place palms on the floor 8-10 inches behind you, fingertips pointing towards toes.  Push down through the palms of the hands, shoulders away from the ears. Lift your heart towards the sky, as if you were being poked with a broom between the shoulder blades. Feel the biceps rolling outward allowing the shoulder blades to engage down the back.  Engage the legs pointing through the balls of the feet.

 

Want more Ayurveda right now check out this post I wrote for the Yoga Connection about Kitchari and Cleansing click here.

Are you a runner?  Check out the 31 miles in 31 day challenge and learn how you could win a FREE Yoga Coaching for Runners session. Click here.

Heal your Heart, Calm your Vata

MP900440916Every day seems like the perfect day to focus on our hearts and the healing process.  But there is one day a year that there is a holiday to celebrate the heart and love, what perfect timing.  We are in the middle of the Vata time of year.  Vata’s tend to have traits of fear and self blame.  Do you know what the opposite of those traits are?  Love and self compassion, everything that Valentines day stands for (at least to me.)

3 Simple ways to Promote Love and Compassion for yourself:

1.  Bring your attention to your heart, imagine the energy expanding with joy.  Closing your eyes imagine a bright white, pink or gold light emanating out.MC900436241

2.  Take time to gently massage your heart with a clockwise motion.  The traditional number is 108 times, but any amount is better than none.

3.  Diffuse or use these essential oils rose, geranium, rose geranium, neroli, and lemon.

Self care over all is good for healing your heart.  Here is a short gentle Heart Opening Yoga Vinyasa Flow I made for you.  Happy Valentines:)

Click here to watch Gentle Heart Opening Vinyasa Flow.

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Find out about upcoming events click here.

Meditation Practice: 5 Things I’ve Learned in 5 Years (Guest Post By Jill Salahub)

meditation22“Many of us are slaves to our minds. Our own mind is our worst enemy. We try to focus, and our mind wanders off. We try to keep stress at bay, but anxiety keeps us awake at night. We try to be good to the people we love, but then we forget them and put ourselves first. And when we want to change our life, we dive into spiritual practice and expect quick results, only to lose focus after the honeymoon has worn off. We return to our state of bewilderment. We’re left feeling helpless and discouraged. It seems we all agree that training the body through exercise, diet, and relaxation is a good idea, but why don’t we think about training our minds?”  ~Sakyong Mipham

At its most fundamental, meditation is the act of focusing your mind, giving all your attention to one thing. This practice can pull us out of our conditioned ways of thinking, habitual ways of being, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what is going on, and can ground our experience in reality, the present moment, what’s really happening and who we really are.

In this state, we can allow room for and begin to accept all that is, and in this open space, we are awake and in tune with our fundamental wisdom and compassion, we can remain sane and “keep our seat” no matter what circumstances arise in our environment, no matter what distractions, irritations, thoughts or strong emotions occur.

I’ve regularly practiced meditation for the past five years, have experienced great benefit from it. I could write an entire book about my experience, but for now I’d like to share with you just five of the things I’ve learned as I’ve practiced.
1. There is a style of meditation that is right for you.

Over the past 20 years or so, I have dabbled in meditation, tried many different practices. I have sat alone on the floor of my room with no cushion guided by nothing but a stick of incense and instructions from a book. I have meditated with my eyes open and my eyes closed, on various types of cushions and chairs, in various physical positions and postures, alone and in groups, practiced the styles of many different traditions.

In the end, I determined that Shamatha style meditation, as practiced in the Shambhala tradition, a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, was right for me. This calm awareness, peaceful abiding sitting practice, done with eyes open but gaze soft in order to remain present, to connect with your environment, with reality, is the one that works for me. It is up to each one of us to discover the style that fits us, and no one else should suggest that they know the correct or only way for us to meditate.

2. Meditating for even 5-10 minutes a day can transform your life.

Sometimes when we think of meditating or of starting a practice, we turn it into a big deal. We think we need special gear, chants and mantras, specific kinds of incense, a shrine with all the right elements, a certain kind of attitude before we can even begin. We turn the whole thing into such a big production that we either have a confused experience of it, or we don’t end up practicing at all.

It is good to have genuine intention, to honor the practice, take it seriously, but one must understand that the point is to meditate—to simply be, no big deal, and to do so regularly. Even one minute attempting this state, allowing this open space can have a significant impact.

Think of it this way, if you were a runner, you wouldn’t attempt a marathon your first time out, wouldn’t attempt to go that far during every daily run, but rather you would train, and you would know that if you kept trying you would eventually be stronger, build your endurance and stamina, that your continued effort would add to your health and wellbeing.Woman Placing Palms Together

3. Meditation is not about the cessation of thought.

Some people actually believe that we can somehow force our brain, whose primary function is to think, to be entirely empty, and that this emptiness should be the point of meditation. In the same way we cannot make our eyes stop seeing, we can’t train or bully our mind into stopping what it does. What we can do is place its attention on something and train it to stay there. When thoughts arise, as they will, we can teach it to simply let those thoughts be, to notice them, be aware of them arising and to allow them to dissolve as they will, to soften and relax into the present moment.

4. You will never do it perfectly, that’s not the goal.

As with any other practice, you will have some good days and some bad. Some meditation sessions will feel like the best thing that ever happened to you, and others you will spend the entire time locked in struggle, being hooked by every thought that arises, carried away by every strong emotion. And yet, there is no failure. The fact that you attempt your practice, that you show up and try is what matters.

5. Your practice will follow you off the cushion.

We don’t meditate to become the perfect meditator, “We meditate to wake up and live, to become skilled at the art of living,” (Elizabeth Lesser). We meditate so that we can learn how our mind works, so we can calmly watch how it speeds up and wanders off, and to learn that we don’t need to follow. We practice surrendering to the present moment, letting go of hope and fear, resting with and relaxing into reality. We meditate so that we can become friends with ourselves, accept our full humanity and experience, discover and learn to value our true nature. We practice meditation with the intention of understanding how our mind works, to train it to hold still in sanity, no matter what our external circumstances might be. All of this work and training will follow us off the cushion. Meditation practice can cause a fundamental shift in how we approach and experience our whole life.

Guest Writer: Jill SalahuJillb, you can find out more of her deliciouse writing at http://thousandshadesofgray.com.

In her paid work, Jill Salahub has taught writing at Colorado State University for the past 12 years. As her heart’s work, she’s practiced yoga and meditation for five years, been a writer most of her life, and has been rescued by three dogs. Her superpowers are generosity and gentleness, and she loves to laugh. Jill writes about the tenderness and the terror, the beauty and the brutality of life, and of her efforts to keep her heart open through it all on her blog, A Thousand Shades of Gray (http://thousandshadesofgray.com).

5 Natural Tips for Avoiding and Getting Rid of the Flu

Woman with tissue and hot drinkI recently happened to watch a little of the news, which is rare for me and I saw a map showing the worst to least affected by the flu in North America.  It was pretty obvious to me after seeing it that the places worst affected had recently had a lot of trauma, such as the fires in Colorado and New Mexico, as well as the states that had the smoke drift into them and the North East with the Hurricane.  Trauma/stress can lower the immune system which then opens people up for a more likely chance of getting sick if they don’t take time to recuperate.  Stress lowers the digestive fire and dehydration causes the body to dry out.  Ayurveda always looks at the digestive system and what the digestive fire is doing, when someone is out of balance.  When your digestive fire is low it increases your chance of becoming sick because you are not able to burn up the infection and if you are not digesting and breaking your food down properly, it weakens your body’s ability to fight back as it is not getting the proper nutrients.

Keep the Flue at Bay by:

1.  Spicing your food with spices good for your dosha increases the digestive fire– coriander (Pitta), black pepper(Kapha), cinnamon(Vata).  More spice choices by dosha click here.

2.  Keep your bowls evacuating properly by drinking warm water with lemon in the morning before your first meal.

3.  Stay hydrated- even though it is cold out it is also dry.  Think warm teas especially ones that increase the digestive fire.  Honey is a natural germ killer and can be added to tea , sandwiches with nut spread and in oatmeal.MP900309578

4.  Diffusing essential oils with anti microbial properties -Thyme VK- P+, OreganoVK-P+, LavenderPK-V=, CinnamonVK- P+, Eucalyptus KV-P+, Clove KV-P+, GeraniumPK-V+.  Caution don’t put these directly on your skin without diluting as most are heating.

Lucky you! Here is a little peek at the 5 Week Sensory Cleanse Click here to see Video 2 which talks about the importance of smell, how to heal your stuffy, runny nose and using your nose to keep your digestive fire strong.  Video 2 the Sense of Smell.

Stay healthy this Flu Season!

How do you avoid or fight off the flu?  Let me know in the comments below.

Want some more Ayurveda right now?  Check out my guest post on Jessica Drummond.com Learn to calm your Vata and stress less this winter click here.

My New Years Resolution Breakdown

MP900309664This year is going to be the year I _________.  What did you fill in?  Loose weight, find a significant other,make it big?  What ever you put in the blank, I dare you to answer the question, why?  I hope it was for you, and if it’s not, make one that is solely for you.

The Doshas and Goal setting:

Vatta’s tend to set big goals and get overwhelmed. (Try small tangible goals)

Pitta’s tend to force themselves to reach their big goals, even if that means they are not enjoying it and can tend to express anger towards others because of it. (Try the 50% rule, allowing yourself a little break.)

Kapha’s can become stuck in their habits and not realize what  negative habits are doing to them. (Try supported change, gym, one on one training, exercise group, or do a challenge with your family) 

The two biggest reasons I find that New Years resolutions don not work are.  People set a big goal and expect fast results or they haven’t dealt with physical or emotional pain which can hold them back.  Here are ways to overcome theses issues and make this the year you stick to your new years resolution.

1.  When you set your  goal, break it down into smaller goals.  Lets just stick with the weight loss example, your big goal might be to lose 15lbs. but your small goal might be to lose 1lbs. a week.  That means that in 3 months you will have lost 12lbs.  Every time you reach one of your smaller goal you feel succesful and you have accomplished something, which allows you to be succesful see results and stay motivated to keep going.  On this gradual plan you are able to make progress without overwhelming yourself.

Once you have broken down the steps and made smaller goals, put it in your calender, make your plan just as important as your work schedule.  (Exmp. walk 2:30-3:00p.m. Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat.- Sun 10-10:45)

Eating healthier-try the 50% rule.  Half the time you eat what you want and half the time you eat healthy.

Exercisise-Try cardio every other day, depending on how much you currently do (haven’t been working out 10 min. already workout 30 min) and 10-30 min of walking every day .  A walking partner or music(one ear bud only for safety) can make it easier and keep you motivated.

 

2.  Physical and emotional pain can be big factors in being successful in your resolution.  Haven’t been exercising?  Is it because your knee, back is hurting?  Are you unable to stop overeating? Is it because you are constantly hearing your mother in your head telling you, you are not good enough or stressed because of work?

Take a moment to do a quick body scan.  First do this standing and then sitting.  Close your eyes, take a couple deep breaths and start at the top of your head all the way down to your toes look for any pain, soreness, tightness or discomfort, if you notice anything write this down.  Depending you may want to see a Chiropractor, Massage therapist, Ayurveda Practitioner or Doctor.

Sitting down, take a moment to think about your resolution, notice what doubts, or blocks pop into your head.  Maybe there is another stressor that has nothing to do with your resolution that keeps showing up.  Write these down.  These types of issues can be worked with through meditation, eating a Vata calming diet, talking to a good friend, psychiatrist, or regaining empowerment through physical activity.

Have a Great New Year!

What is your new years resolution?  Let me know if this post helped in the comments below. 

Have you signed up for the Free 5 Week Sensory Cleanse?  Starts Wednesday January 2nd.  Click here to sign up.

(How to) Easy Essential Oil Gift Ideas

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As the season of gifting approaches why not give a fast acting gift of happiness with a yummy salt scrub that will make your shower feel like a spa.  Or a room spray that can disinfect as well as smell great, or an uplifting blend, that can be used in your office or home.  Smell is one of the fastest ways to affect the mind.  Lavender calming stress, Lemon to enliven and brighten a gloomy disposition.  Smell can also affect your digestion, Peppermint helps calm a full stomach or fennel to stoke the digestive fire.  Overall pleasant smells make us feel happy and can greatly affect the mood of the environment you are in.

Essential oils for the Doshas

*Means ok for salt scrub, the others may be to harsh for the skin and should only be used in a spray.

Vata- *Chamomile (Grounding), *Lavender (Calming), *Jasmine

Pitta-*Rose (Heart opening), *Peppermint (Cooling), *Lemon (Uplifting)

Kapha- Eucalyptus (Decongestant), *Orange (Uplifting), Sage (Drying)MP900387904

Salt Scrub Ingredients:

1 cup of salt (small grains, not rock salt)

3/4 cup of Olive, Almond or Jojoba oil

Preferred Essential Oils

Plastic or Tin container

Directions:

Combine salt and oil into bowl, mix with spoon or clean hands.  (You want to have the salt soaked but not liquidy so if you need to add a little oil go for it.)

Add essential oil a couple of drops at a time and stir to avoid making too potent.  Watch video for blending tips.

Scoop salt scrub into container.  (Preferably not glass as the person using will be in shower and you don’t want them to drop it with oily hands.)

The more you decorate the container, the more posh it gets.  That means think ribbons, tags, charms, anything you want, be creative.

**My favorite essential oils for salt scrub are geranium and lemon blend.**

Room Spray Ingredients:

Distilled water (amount depends on size of bottle)

If you are doing a floral spray you can start with a pre-made rose water base instead.

Preferred Essential Oils

Empty spritzer bottle (can be in found in natural food or craft store.)

Directions:MP900177858

Pour water into spritzer bottle. Leave room at the top for essential oils and the tube that goes into the bottle for the spritzer.

Slowly add essential oils and check the smell as you go.  Watch video for blending tips.

Decorate with ribbon, tag or card, or decorate your own labels. (Blank sticky  labels can be found in the office sections of the store.)

**Lavender spritzer is an antibacterial and smells wonderful, you can even spray a little near your pillow to help you sleep at night.**

Essential Oil Safety Tips:

*If you haven’t done much blending you can stick to one essential oil, or try not to go over three.

*Not quite sure what oils, Lavender and Vanilla on their own are very accepted and enjoyed smells.

*Don’t apply essential oils to skin with out diluting with carrier oil.

*Keep essential oils away from eyes.

*Do not ingest essential oils.

*Pregnant women should ask their doctor before using essential oils.