I love coffee. As a yogi and Ayurveda enthusiast, this can be a topic of controversy, but I'll freely admit that I LOVE IT!
But there's a catch: when Fall comes around, I find that coffee can make me feel very spacey and overstimulated. According to the life science of Ayurveda, in Fall, the elements of air + ether are coming into dominance and depending on your elemental constitution, this can sometimes make you experience those elements more intensely. The taste profile of black coffee is bitter + astringent which can dry you up, just like too much wind can! I used to give up coffee all together in the Fall and Early Winter, but then I began traveling to Guatemala every November and experience my first cup or fresh Guatemalan coffee (the coffee there is something NOT TO BE MISSED). So I faced a predicament, how to still enjoy a cup of coffee but not feel any negative effects from it. The answer is in the preparation and consumption.
If you're like me and notice that you need a little shift in your coffee ritual in the Fall, try these modifications so you can still enjoy your morning beverage and stay balanced in body + mind. Also, keep in mind how you drink your coffee can determine its effect on you. Are you gulping it down and rushing for the door, are you drinking it while walking fast outside, or are you slowly sipping and enjoying the coffee in a warm place? Try for the latter, make your coffee time a grounding ritual!
Coffee for Fall
To balance out the drying qualities of coffee, add a pinch of these warming + calming spices to your coffee grounds while brewing.
To help your coffee be more grounding + nourishing for your body and mind, try adding these before you drink.
**remember, a little goes a long way. One cup a day should be all you take in, to avoid adrenal depletion, hyperacidity, and other imbalances!**
In Ayurveda, we practice an annual tradition of seasonal cleansing, typically twice a year, once in the Fall and once in the Spring. The nature of these two cleanses are very different since the seasonal transitions affect our minds and bodies in very different ways. In the springtime, there is a sense of heavy and wet qualities present in the weather. If there is still snow, notice that it's not the light, delicate flakes of early-mid winter, but it's slushy and heavy. The ground is cold, damp, and fertile...ready to support Spring planting, and rainy, cloudy days are frequent.
Ayurveda recognizes that what is happening in Nature, outside of us, is also a sign of what is happening inside. You might find you have allergies, phlegm, or other mucus-related troubles. Your belly might feel bloated and heavy, and suddenly you're aware of a few extra winter pounds!? It's time for a Spring Cleanse to lighten up!
Here are a few things that you might want to start doing to prepare for your own Spring Cleanse, so you get the most out of the process. When we cleanse, it's a 3-stage process: the preparation, the cleanse period, and exiting a cleanse. This week, I'm all about preparation, and here are some things I'm starting to incorporate in my practice.
Preparing Your Body
To create space for change, we must let go of some things. In order to transform, we need to throw some junk in the fire. It's time to say goodbye to a few of your favorite vices. Begin today with giving one thing up, add another into the fire tomorrow or the day after, then another in a few days. By the time Day 1 of your cleanse rolls around, you're off to a great start and your body can get down to the task at hand: deep cleaning.
Things to throw into the fire
Preparing Your Habits
There are a few things you can start doing that will help you build good habits that will become second nature by the time you start your official cleanse. It can be difficult to make all of these changes all at once, so start now by replacing some of the things you're letting go of with these practices:
Preparing Your Space
Over my years of cleansing, I've some to realize that this is a vital element in the process: a deep clean of your home, office, car, and garden. Clean and organize any space that you spend your time in and you might notice has also started to get a big clogged with clutter. Notice the connection between what's going on in your space and how you feel in your mind and body.
This weekend I got really focused and tackled my kitchen first, since that will be an important space for cleanse preparation and cooking. I cleaned and organized my tea/spice/herb cabinet, scrubbed countertops, cabinet doors, the stovetop, appliances, and shelves. It only took 2 hours and I felt a great sense of accomplishment after.....and now my space is ready for cleansing and healing to happen!
Look at your calendar for the cleanse week and try to block off as much time as possible to relax, prep your meals, go for walks in nature, journal, organize your closets...this is the time to re-set, establish healthy routines, and put your energy towards where you want to be going/how you want to be feeling. Think of Spring Cleanse Week as your own mini-retreat and plan accordingly.
Join Meghan Dwyer and me for Aluna's Inner Sanctuary Spring Cleanse this April! Details will be released soon, make sure you're on our mailing list so you're first to know!
~be bright, live inspired~
Hi everyone! I'm so excited Meg asked me to share a recipe with you because I love cooking and creating new recipes. This one was inspired from my love of sweet potatoes. I've always loved sweet potatoes but sometimes eating them as baked potatoes or mashed potatoes all the time gets a little old. I also love kale! When I was little I would walk through my parents garden eating as many of the leafy greens and herbs I could get my hands on, kale was one of my favorites. So from my love of sweet potatoes and kale this wonderfully delicious salad was born and has turned into one of my favorite lunches!
The most time consuming part is roasting the sweet potatoes but with a little planning you can roast them while you are eating dinner the night before or taking your morning shower. Most of my clients work away from home so I'm always looking for ways to turn my homemade and home-eaten lunches into easily packed lunches. This salad is very easy to prep in the morning and mix together when it's time to eat.
While you are making your breakfast start the kale marinating in the salad dressing. Kale is a very hearty green that can sometimes be a bit difficult to chew. By letting it marinate in the salad dressing it becomes much easier to eat. This recipe calls for about 4 tablespoons of dressing which can seem like a lot but isn't that much when you mix in the sweet potatoes later on. So get your kale marinating the dressing and let it sit until lunch time. Bake the sweet potatoes the night before or in the morning before you leave for work, they only take about 20 minutes so it's not a big time commitment.
Sweet Potato Kale Salad
About the Chef/Yogini
Emmalyn Gaertner wants to live in a world where health is about balance, we find happiness in the little things, and our food is cooked with love. As a yoga teacher and wellness expert, Emmalyn guides women through flowing transformation both on and off the mat. When Emmalyn isn't practicing yoga or at her computer she enjoys hiking with her dog Ollie, cooking with her husband, and always loves a hug! For recipes, tips & tricks, and healthy inspiration please visit her website or Facebook page
I just made the most delicious dinner, I just have to share it with you right away! It was so good, I don't even have a picture to post...I'll just have to make it again! I pulled this together from a few different ideas of delicious bowls I've seen other people prepare and post around the internets. This is a perfect, dinner-for-two-in-a-bowl that incorporates the delicious ingredients of Spring that your body needs. Don't panic when you read this recipe and the different steps....it's really not that complicated and only took me about 10 minutes to make!
A Bowl of Awesome Spring
Easy No-Bake Ayurvedic Chocolate!
(from Eat, Taste, Heal)
Use your imagination and add more spices into the mix! Be creative. My special blend will always be my secret:) Play around with what your signature spices will be!
1. You’ll need a double boiler or two pots, one larger, and one smaller that will rest over the bigger one, to create a double boiler. Place 2 inches water in large pot and bring to a boil. Place chocolate in smaller pot and turn water down to simmer…melting chocolate in smaller pot. When it’s melted, remove it from the heat.
2. Stir in the almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Sprinkle the raisins, nuts, and both spices over the mixture and stir well.
3. On a tray lined with wax paper, drop spoonfuls of the chocolate to form bite-sized portions. Depending on the texture, you may even be able to roll the balls into truffle forms.
4. Sprinkle with the coconut immediately. Put in the fridge until cool and firm, about 30 minutes. Then transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature. Enjoy!
This winter has definitely taken its toll on my body and from the sounds I hear on the train, at restaurants, and in yoga class, I know I'm not alone! I've found myself sick with unforgiving, fierce colds twice in a month. I'm not usually sick so this has been quite the test of patience and self-love. The second time I fell ill, I found myself filled with self-judgement with statements like "you are an Ayurvedic wellness failure" and "what are you doing so wrong in life"?! Hello there angry self-critic! After a few rounds with that old tape, I came out triumphant and with a few great new tools of wellness. Thanks to some of my amazing students and friends for their advice!
I try my best to use my kitchen as my pharmacy (within reason, of course....I do believe Western medicine has a very important place) In case you're struggling with a cold that's been lingering too long or that just keeps coming back, I wanted to offer you my very favorite tools of the wellness trade to combat those winter sickies. Keep taking care of yourself, drinking hot water and tea, and in no time, spring will be here and your body will need a whole new set of tool...and I'll let you know what those are soon:)
Reach for these to prevent illness or when you're feeling something coming on
Fire Cider - make your own with this recipe or buy my favorite brand if you're in a pinch and need it fast! (fire cider has to sit for a few weeks before it's ready to work its magic)
Elderberry Syrup - I love this stuff and make my own every winter. It tastes great and is a wonderful immunity booster. Beware though, it does fill your home with a strange smell while it's cooking. I don't mind it, but some people might! Here is where I learned to make this wellness pantry staple.
Neti Pot - Just Do It. Here's my favorite brand. And add the flu wash to your neti pot when you're feeling you're about to fall ill.
Reach for these when you're full-on winter sickie
Onion Cough Syrup - Sounds totally weird, tastes pretty good, works like a dream! Don't judge, just try. Here's the recipe I used.
Garlic-Ginger Sick-Buster - In a saucepan, add 2 cups water, 1/2 lemon, 1 clove garlic (minced), and 1-2 inches grated ginger. Bring to a slow boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Strain into a mug and add raw honey to taste. Option to add a dash of cayenne pepper if you'd like. Drink as much of this as humanly possible while your symptoms persist.
What's your go-to Winter Wellness Kitchen Remedy?
Share in the comments so we can try something new!!
Let me know how you like these, and BE WELL.
Common Sense Check!
**Be sure to check with your doctor about ingesting any herbal remedies if you're taking regular medications or have a serious medical illness. Empower yourself and do your research on herbal remedies before you make or take anything. This blog is not intended to diagnose or prescribe, but simply to inspire and inform!**
Do you ever get that feeling when you are in the presence of small children (as long as they are not screaming!)? You know what I'm talking about. I could be in the worst mood, but they have the power to lift me right out of that dark place. A simple look, a sweet smile, an innocent question, or how they find joy in the simplest of things. The energy they carry is healing and they remind me of the magic in the world.
I've learned that land can carry that kind of energy too. I've experienced it most deeply in my travels to Latin America among pyramids, ruins, and other sacred sites, but also in the wilderness areas which bear the spirit of the indigenous people, places that have been barely touched by our modern Western culture.
Lake Atitlan holds the kind of energy I'm referring and its inhabitants, the Mayan people remind me of the magic in the world. The last time I was in Guatemala I brought a group of teenagers down for a service trip in Antigua. At the time I was in a tough spot in my life and had planned to stay an extra week by myself to gain some clarity.
I am not much of a planner when I travel (except when I run a retreat of course!) and the day the group left I found myself sitting at Cafe El Portal, my favorite coffee shop in Antigua, waiting for the force to move me, to tell me which way to go, and battling the bits of anxiety and resistance I always feel before traveling alone (although it lessens which each trip).
I opened up my watercolors on the oval open-air bar overlooking the main square and almost immediately, a little boy selling gum and bracelets appeared. Well, word spread fast, "Gringa with paints will also buy you a licuado (Guatemalan smoothie)!!!" and before I knew it I had four little boys surrounding me at the bar, all painting in total silence. I even trusted them enough to take my camera out on the street and they took some beautiful video footage.
It was one of my dearest travel moments to date.
They were my little messengers, and after the couple hours I spent there, I knew where I had to start my solo adventure: Lake Atitlán. I arrived at the lake with no idea of how long I'd stay. I had been there before and there is always that voice inside of me telling me to go explore something new. Long story short, I couldn't leave.
Being on that land feels like how a baby must feel when held tight in the arms of his or her mother: protected, supported, nourished, loved…and you never want to be put down. And you feel like a kid again: swimming in the lake, walking around barefoot, smelling the countless varieties of flowers, watching the clouds go by, listening to the way the water sounds as it meets the shore. You find yourself just naturally waking up with the sun. You wait to watch the moon rise and then it's bedtime.
You feel totally in sync with Mother Nature and her rhythms.
Observing the Mayan people…walking everywhere carrying bundles on their back, doing their wash in the lake, cultivating the hills, men in their small boats, women weaving under the trees…and how they are connected to the land, to each other, to the activity they are doing. There is even a grace in the way that they wash their clothes. The joyful way they interact with you when you are buying their crafts, how they barter with a sweet smile. They reminded you of the simple pleasures of life, and make you question why we make life so much more complicated. Just like children.
I was by myself, but the journey would not have been as healing without the people I met who opened my mind and the community I encountered that honored and supported me. Atitlan is like an energy vortex that attracts the most outstanding people.
On that trip I made the decision to enroll in a yoga teacher training program, something my mind had been mulling over for sometime. It is very special for me to return to the lake as a yoga teacher with a group of students. Sweet serendipity…which is a normal occurrence when you give yourself the time and space for your mind to rest, and your soul to rejuvenate. You remember you are living in a magical world.
~Meghan Dwyer is co-hosting the In Lak'ech Yoga Retreat this November 1-9 at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Check out the details here and join us!
I love this breakfast any time of the year, but especially reach for it when I'm wanting to feel cleaner and lighter. It only takes me 5 minutes to prepare!
The apple and flaxseed meal are great colon cleansers. The spices are grounding and also work to stimulate digestion. Ginger gives it a little kick. Ginger also has the most amazing healing properties, including: it's an anti-inflammatory, it stimulates digestion, reduces gas, improves absorption and assimilation of nutrients, and the list goes on!
If you eat this without adding the yogurt or almond butter and notice that you're pretty hungry in a few hours, try adding the protein next time as that will help tie you over until lunch!
Warm Spiced Apple Bowl
· 1 chopped apple
· 1-inch chopped or grated ginger (powdered is ok too)
· cinnamon & cardamom
· 1 T. flaxseed meal or flaxseed oil
· 1 tsp ghee or coconut oil
· 1 T. plain yogurt, almond butter, or Soom Tahini (the BEST!!)
· raisins and/or walnuts (optional)
1. Put a tsp of ghee or coconut oil in a pan over med-low heat and let it melt.
2. Add a generous shake of cinnamon, cardamom as well as the grated ginger. Simmer until
3. Add the apple, stir until apple is coated with spices & oil. When apple starts to soften, add the
flaxseed meal and 1-2 T. water.
4. Stir until well mixed and everything is heated and soft.
5. Top with a spoonful of yogurt or almond butter if you wish. Enjoy!
On Sunday October 6th, I had the pleasure of teaching at a Philadelphia Area all-day yoga festival called Namas Day. It was such an exciting day of all different styles of yoga and workshops coming together and it brought a really great group of people together to practice. I taught a workshop on The Alchemy of Fire: Unlocking Your Inner Potential. Sounds great, right?
When I got in my car after teaching, I felt a familiar and unpleasant presence arising: my INNER CRITIC. During the drive home and continuing into the evening, there she was in full force, tearing me to pieces. My rational mind was fighting that I did an excellent job leading the practice I outlined, giving people an experience of something new in their minds and bodies. I also acknowledged that the short lecture portion of the workshop could’ve been a little smoother, as I was pretty nervous during that part.
Even louder and more vicious was Miss Inner Critic, taking everything from my rational mind and chewing it up and spitting it back out in torrents of self-hatred. Oh she was ruthless in pulling out all the stops. She even became quite overdramatic, going to the lengths of statements like: “You shouldn’t even be a yoga teacher.” “What are you doing with your life?” It was like a tornado of self-torture in my mind. I tried to shut her up, but that just made her more ferocious. I felt the urge to back down, to run away and quit.
Then, like clouds parting in an internal storm, a strong and clear voice from deep within (welcome INNER TEACHER!) said, “ NO. Be a buffalo. Stand in the face of this storm that the inner critic is creating, and you’ll learn from it. You have the tools to turn this around.” I felt a wave of relief and strength wash over my heart.
Throughout the evening, whenever inner critic came to visit, I’d stop whatever I was doing and become still and notice how my body felt. I would bring my attention to the fire in my belly and the light in my heart and remind myself that I can face this aspect of myself that has been getting in my way for way too many years.
I realized that every moment I stay present with the inner critic, every moment I listen without reacting and stay in the sensations, is a moment that will remind me that I am bigger than that part of myself. The more I welcome her instead of cringing when she’s around or letting her beat me up, is a moment where I DISARM her. I’ve spent too long meeting her with failed fists only to then hide or run from her.
So hear me now, Miss Inner Critic, I’m not going to hide from you, I’m not going to let you win. I have assembled tools and techniques to incinerate you ...I will go searching for you in my inner world, find out what you're clinging onto, and burn that seed. My inner fire will burn brighter than your boring, old, overused monologue!
What does your Inner Critic say to you and how can YOU tell it to get out of town ?
Last year at this time I started a "Do What Scares Me" monthly project. I only made it two months and I learned a lot so I want to pick up again from where I left off. I'm still pondering what this month will be so stay tuned! In the meantime, here's a blast from the past post from my SCARY venture last year:)
September 21, 2012
At some point in the past few weeks I decided that it's time for me to do things that scare me, at least once a month! I want to be more fearless in all aspects of life! As with anything, it takes practice, so what better way than to choose things that scare me or make me nervous, AND THEN DO THEM. Actually follow through. I did just that tonight, and let me tell you what, I feel amazing. *my legs may not feel so amazing in the morning, but it's a small price to pay*
Tonight I attended my first West African Dance class. Now you may scoff at this and say, "oh Meg, what's so scary about that? It's just a little dancing with drums."
Let me whisper a little secret in your ear....I feel like I'm a TERRIBLE dancer. I do!
My friend and fellow yogi, Dawn, was leading the class and has been asking me to come to one for a few months now, so I decided today was the day. Face those fears of being uncoordinated, muppet-like, ungraceful, and judged by all....and dance it out Miss Yogini!
SO I DID. AND I FEEL AWESOME.
The class was at the studio that I work, Amrita Yoga in Fishtown. It's a beautiful space, it was a beautiful Friday evening, there were amazingly talented live drummers (I mean AMAZING) and of course the beautiful and inspiring Dawn at the helm, leading the way. It was all ladies at the class, and it was so nice to be in the company of other sweet souls. Dawn did an amazing job at creating this safe space for us to explore our bodies and the rhythms.
I think it's been a long time since I've had that much fun. There were times when I was totally confused as to what was going on and messed up some steps, and I didn't even care. I think there was one moment when I judged myself, and I recognized that is a part of me, and I told it that it was welcome to stay around if it wanted, but I was just going to keep giving it my all. And that voice became quiet:)
It was such an amazing experience at watching the mind do it's thing, and tapping into something that naturally moved my body and spirit. Near the end she had us all in a circle and we each had to dance a solo in the center. OH. MY. GOODNESS. Five years ago I would've dropped dead in the scenario. Like, literally, that is my worst nightmare, "what, ME, dance freestyle in front of a group?!?"
Tonight, I threw caution to the wind and I got into that circle and I moved my body, and I felt held up and supported by amazing women, and it was so freeing! I DANCED A SOLO IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CIRCLE. I've never done that, not even under the influence of alcohol have I had the courage to do something like that.
I am no longer fearful of this dance thing. In fact, I can't wait until the next one! (Next week in West Chester...I'm there)
Stay tuned for next month's issue of A FEAR CONQUERED. What will the yogini do next?
More importantly......what fear will you face this month? I'd love to know your story!
Love & Light,
Real Living Yoga
Photography: Heidi Roland
Logo Designs: Joelle Bolt
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