lah Posts

Food as Medicine: Fire Cider

fire-cider-recipe-3Food as Medicine:  this is a mantra for best health.  And now, it’s the time of year to make Fire Cider!!!

This is THE go-to, burn-it-out curative elixir for flu, colds, sniffles, digestive boost and various seasonal afflictions.

The ancients knew:  “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates.  And the Ancient Ayurvedic proverb says: “If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. If diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/Quote-Diet-Medicine-Ayurvedic-Proverb.html#ixzz3HO8ZNh2X

There are certain foods that are more medicinal than others – take ginger, turmeric, honey, apple cider vinegar among them.

Fire Cider itself is a blend of folk medicinals for anti-microbial action, decongestant power and spicy stimulators of the circulatory system.  All elements that make for a stronger immunity overall.

Click here to  follow the holistic health herbalist recipe or craft your own from the following basics.

1/2 cup fresh grated organic ginger root

1/2 cup fresh grated organic horseradish root

1 medium organic onion, chopped

10 cloves of organic garlic, crushed or chopped

2 organic jalapeno peppers, chopped

Zest and juice from 1 organic lemon (include the lemon peel)

Several sprigs of fresh organic rosemary or 2 tbsp dried rosemary leaves

1 tbsp organic turmeric powder 

1/4 tsp organic cayenne powder

organic apple cider vinegar

1/4 to 1/2 cup raw local honey to taste 

 

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a quart sized jar with a plastic lid.  (metal may rust, so line it with parchment if it’s all you’ve got.  Shake it daily for a month.  Finally:  press and strain the liquid through a nut milk bag or some cheese cloth.  Then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey.

 

Why you Should indulge in New Moon Appreciation

new-moon

The New Moon is a mysterious thing. It is, on a basic level, a trip to the dark side…The part where the sun don’t shine, therefore there is no reflection for us to see.  Oct 23, 2014 this month.

Think of it as the birthing cycle of the moon. In the days after the official new moon, the nascent moon will be but the skinny crescent  found low on the horizon.  So, Why focus on the new moon?

Well,   for starters, since I hate the back-ends of things perspective,  I prefer to see it as the down time before the build up and watch the elegant slip of a crescent grown into its full glory later in the month.  But there are more compelling reasons to love a new moon cycle….

The New Moon is the start of the waxing time (vs waning) and a such is the perfect time to consider what new things you might want to call into your life and your world.  It is the perfect time to articulate some changes you would like to see or call up some things you want in your life…  If you do not dream on things and think them into being….well you know.  You are what you think!

Following new moon cycles is on the most basic level a cheat-easy way to get connected to “nature” even if it has to be from the roof of your building… I can give you the chart  (click here for moon phase chart)  but really, just go outside and take note...

 

THE NEW MOON INNER OBSERVATORY PRACTICE – (a “be your own laboratory practice”)

WHAT YOU NEED:  Journal, Pen, Powers of observation: inner and outer, a sense of play and exploration.

WHAT YOU DO:

Go outside and look at the new moon. Or rather the night sky which will have no apparent moon to see.

Pick your journal and settle in with it.  This could be a file on computer, but I just love the feel of great paper and a smooth pen, preferably real ink.

If you are into yoga, maybe try a Chandra Namaskar practice.  Sort of like a sun salutation but go super slow with deep long breath and instead of chataranga push up, flow back into a child’s pose.

chandra-namaskara

Now, think of and then jot down the things you would like to see manifest in your world — spiritual, physical, tangible and emotional.  You can illustrate with images, ideas etc.  hey:  it’s your journal.

Then, with each new moon, don’t just cross off the things on the list that have either been accomplished or are no longer relevant:  re-write the whole list again.

To really solidify these best intentions, aspirations and desires, do an “Inner Observatory Practice like the following combination of breathing and sitting.

Do a few rounds of a simple breathing practice like Alternate Nostril breathing for balance and to quickly and easily settle the mind into its receptive juiciest state.

After the breathing practice,  try to think of a happy time and try to feel what i was like during that time…the people, the faces, the smell.  Now, into this feeling of contentedness repeat the things on your list, to yourself,  in your mind,  in an affirmative way.  Then just sit for a few minutes, spine tall, hands in lap and thinking of nothing in particular.  Watch the breath if you need to keep the monkey mind busy so you do not spend the time plotting ways to “achieve.”  Just let the thoughts sit in the deep subtle energetic caverns of your mind and soul.  It is a process.  Let it be.  (NOTE:  you might set a timer to 10 minutes for the short breathing practice and the sitting.)

 

3 Ways to Nourish While you Sleep

sleeping beauty

 

I am an inveterate multi-tasker so when i can think of ways to get things done in my sleep I am excited!

The most pressing threats to well-being right now relate to this most volatile of seasonal transition: fall*.

The main thing to know is that all transitions call for solutions be they cleansing, invigorating, cooling or nourishing.

Suffice it to say that though all of these are good, nourishing ahead of the dry, cold, dormant season is the key right now.

Herewith are 3 simple ways to nourish while you sleep that may prove critical to your well-being throughout the winter to come by bolstering your immune system.

  1.  Sleep itself!
  2.  Nourishing Jam
  3. “Pure Yum” Ojas building Elixir

1.  Sleep:  Sleep early, sleep long and sleep soundly.  HA! I can hear you say.  So many people have interrupted sleep so follow the sleep program from last week’s post and feel the benefits of a clearer mind, better memory, better digestion, weight control and more. Click here for more Sleep strategies.

2. Nourishing Jam: Chyavanprash is a tasty traditional Ayurvedic herbal jam that you scoop onto a teaspoon and lick til consumed.  I take it daily in this season of change and during particularly stressful times. After that I reserve it for when I feel a tickle at the back of my throat, a cold brewing,  or while traveling.  (to purchase, click here.)

3.   “Pure Yum” Ojas Elixir:  Whip it up and drink before bed.

1 cup of milk. Use cow, almond or coconut milk
Bring the milk to a slow, frothy pre-boil

Add small amounts of each of the following and simmer:

▪ Chopped dates

▪ Chopped almonds

▪ Coconut meat or flakes

▪ Saffron (1-2 threads)

▪ Cardamom (1/4 tsp)

▪ Olive oil, Flax oil or Ghee (1 tbsp)

Drink Warm.  Nighty night!

 

*Fall is an exceptionally volatile transition.  The wind is getting brisk and the air, chill.  These conditions are particularly bothersome to you Vata types (take that  Dosha Quiz to figure out if you are one.)

How to Become your own Sleep Expert

sleeping kitty Sleep sleep sleep.  I am a sleep fanatic and nothing  do I fear more than a restless night.  With good reason.  Study after study shows the importance of sleep to everything from memory and concentration to weight control, heart disease, mood and co-ordination.  The truth is there are things to do to make sleep easier.  Look at the solutions and see which rings true for you and try any or all of them!

1.  Early to Bed and Early to rise.  The best sleep happens before midnight. They say that the hours before midnight are doubly valuable to those after.  Nothing is more blissful in terms of locating that fully rested feeling than being in a house without electricity where you really do feel compelled to rest soon after sunset and rise with the sun. In fact a primary strategy for better sleep is to become aware of and find a way to interact with the natural rhythms of the day like adjust sleep to sunrise and sunset for a day or two, pay attention to the tides.

2.  Eat Early and less (and that wine may not be helping).  Doing most of your active digesting before laying down to let your system rest and rejuvenate is just common sense.  Hard to do but hugely beneficial when you can achieve it. As for alcohol:  it may feel like a sedative at cocktail hour but when it comes to sleep it may be the very thing waking you up in the wee hours.  Experiment with a few dry days and see if the nights become more restful. (Now as always, I am a firm believe in being well AND savoring the ride, so no need to take a permanent wagon ride unless you have a real drinking problem.  But do experiment in that best laboratory of all — your own system– and see how it goes.

3.  All systems down.  Begin the process of shutting down by dimming the lights. Then consider turning off all of those electronics.  I have a new habit of checking last emails at around 8pm and unplugging the computer and as many fixtures as possible on the off chance that proponents of the electromagnetic damage done in the bedroom are correct.  Shutting down the electronic systems is both a signal and a real stimulus reducer.

4.  Sedate those wild and frenetic energies:  Sometimes it comes to taking something that will act as a sedative on the system, reducing the nervous, overwrought energies running through the system so you can wind down and rest. ( And I do not mean Ambien which may be necessary in an acute situation but is never good for long.) For natural products with sedating qualities try these: teas of valerian and chamomile and elixirs like this night-time drink CLICK HERE.

5. Evening Self-Practice.  Develop an evening practice.   Morning practices help you take hold of your physical and mental self for the day ahead.  Evening practices help you take hold of your racing mind and tell it to ‘shut it. ‘  Think about a moon salutation practice to wind down the physical.  A So Hum Meditation Breathing practice (click here)  will  quiet,  balance and reset the mind.  A night meditation allows you to bring in an intention that can then rest in your sleeping mind for a whole 7-9 hours.  Powerful possibilities can be imagined!  Brushing your teeth and hair are simple rituals.  Massaging the feet with sesame oil (then put socks to avoid slipping or staining) is another effective pre-bed self-soother.  Of course a bath with some lavender essential oil drops will take your intensity level down a peg as well.

6.  Empty the Mind:  Put pen to paper and jot down any stray items from your to-do list. Concerns, groceries, appointments.  Anything that is stuffing up your mind should go on this list. Then you will know it is waiting for you to tackle in the morning and perhaps will plague you a little less when you are trying to get tot sleep and there is nothing more to be done anyway.

7.  When All Else Fails  at 2 am – Try body scans, yoga nidras and more breathing:   This is the part where despite your best efforts you find your mind racing, you cannot get comfortable and sleep is absolutely stubbornly elusive.  As a child I would take my pillow and sleep at the foot of my bed.  Try that one!  But mostly this is the part where you simply have to surrender.

  • Do some more So-Hum breathing.
  • Body scan.  Lay on your back, arms and legs relaxed and palms down.  Scan the body, one by one relaxing toes, feet legs, arms fingers, organs torso, head and neck.
  • The structure within.  Now go even deeper within the relaxed body. Imagine that beneath your skin and muscle you can scan the skeleton. Scan around from toes to fingers, ribs and skull.  Mind resting heavy and soft within that cavity.
  • Light within.   Next imagine a warm soothing, sunset sort of glowing light filling the body under your skin.
  • Watch the mind rest.  Next just watch the thoughts swirl and play and laugh at them.  Tell them to get lost.
  • Yoga nidra:  Next plug in a good Yoga Nidra (click here to have one created just for you.)  You should be asleep by now.

SLEEP WELL!sleeping baby

Want a quickie lesson in stress release?

stress release mantra mudra

Sa Ta Na Ma – ultimate Stress Release

Stress release that’s easy to do anywhere:  turbulent situations like airplanes, office, subway, taxi, or as a quick break from any maddening situation.

I basically believe that contemplative practices are the ultimate answers to life’s troubles great and small. Some people say they can’t do breath and meditation practices because it makes them anxious (not so good when fighting for stress release.).  I love a good practice that keeps both the mind and body busy enough to let the relaxation happen … and here it is.

Easy and comprehensible, though direct to you from the far fields of Tantric practices, it is both a Mantra and a Mudra and astress release strategy that’s completely different.

So,  Mantra, shmantra, what’s a mantra?  A repeated word.  Add it to a mudra (hand gesture) and you have a walloping good practice for relaxation and stress release.

They say you will find enhanced  wisdom, focus, energy and connection;  all things which always seem in short supply.

Try it and see for yourself.  Trying in the laboratory of your own experience is, after all, the only way to know.

 

Theory:  This practice, derived from something called Kundalini Yoga Kirtan Kriya, is invested with a lot of meaning but just take it as a simple practice and feel the benefits for yourself.  It is in two parts:  a mantra (or repeated sounds) along with a hand action (or mudra.)  The five primal sounds Sa,Ta,Na,Ma  have a literal Sanskrit connotation (meaning if you will): Sa means birth (some say infinity); Ta means life; Na means death; and Ma means rebirth. So as you chant you are theoretically sounding out the eternal circle of life: birth, life, death & rebirth while enhancing equanimity, intuition and creativity.

Practice:  Use ‘Sa Ta Na Ma’ in a couple of ways.  With eyes closed – First: chant it for a minute in your normal voice (the voice of action.) Then: whisper it for one minute (the voice of your romantic nature, the inner mind voice.) Next: repeat silently to yourself for one minute (the spiritual voice.) Then reverse the order until you are repeating Sa Ta Na Ma aloud.

Once you have mastered this,  try adding the hand practice. On Sa touch the index finger to your thumb; on Ta touch the middle finger to your thumb; on Na touch the ring finger to your thumb; on Ma touch the little finger to your thumb. Apply a light pressure every time you touch the fingers. Continue touching the fingers in sequence throughout the exercise, even during the silent part.

f2006b112de481888fd3a61329371e06

 

When you are all done:

Inhale deeply, then exhale all the air.

Stretch your hands high above your head.

Spread and extend the fingers.

Stretch your spine up high.

Expand and take several deep breaths.

Finish with a deep satisfying, elephantine sigh.