Our spring 2017 retreat is coming up and we have a couple more spaces left. Contact us ASAP if you'd like to join. The weekend will be filled with quiet time in nature, yogic practices, Ayurveda education and nourishing home-cooked meals. If you're needing a weekend away to rest and be nurtured, this could be a great opportunity that will benefit your health and connect you to the peace within. Om, Camina
We are happy to announce another "Wellness Hike" taking place this Sunday at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, one of the most beautiful preserved redwoods forests groves on the northern California coast. We'll meet the morning of May 22nd and begin with about an hour hike. At the end of the hike we'll gather at the Forest Amphitheater in the park where we'll practice some gentle yoga for about 40 minutes, all levels are welcome. Then we will serve an full Ayurvedic meal, picnic style and enjoy our food and tea under the redwoods trees. It should be a be a wonderful day and you all are invited!
These kind of "Wellness Hike" events came about by wanting to provide people a full experience in nature, connected to the body and breath, and nourished by wholesome food. With all of us leading busy lives, we know that quiet time in nature can be the best reset and way to recharge ourselves. This event is intended to provide you with things that make most of us feel healthy and good ---time immersed in the natural elements, yoga-based movement, breath work, relaxation, a home cooked meal...etc. Yet, it's also intended to be a 'mini day retreat' unplugged from technology and the to-do list to just be with yourself and others and be filled with prana from these ancient trees (some of the them are 1300 years old). Of course, you're welcome to stay in the park as long as you want and make a whole day out of it.
Here are some other details:
*arrive at the Visitor Center parking lot by 9:30am
*bring water, layers of clothes, and wear comfortable walking shoes
*bring a yoga mat if you have one or we'll provide one for you
*the Ayurvedic meal will have vegan and gluten-free options
*kids are welcome over the age of 13
*groups of three or more can come for $30 each
*no one is turned away for financial reason, donate whatever you can
*we will have someone playing acoustic music at the end of the yoga class and through part of the meal
*we'll be back to the Visitor Center parking lot by 1pm the latest
I hope to see some of you this Sunday! To confirm you repsond to this event, call or text (707) 696-7425, or email TakeAHikeWithUs@gmail.com.
♥ ♥ ♥
It's not too late to sign up for our retreat this weekend! We're inviting all woman, daughters, and mothers to join us for our second day-long Silent Retreat at the Angela Center, Santa Rosa California. The day will be filled with meditation, medical qigong, walking the gardens and labyrinth, restorative yoga, yoga nidra, and time for quiet reflection. It will be a day unplugged and tuned in - to simply listen and enjoy the practices together. See the RSVP link below. Happy Mother's Day weekend, Camina
I'm happy to announce that some new recordings are available. Relax & Be Well is designed to provide guided practices you can use throughout the day to cultivate ease and greater alignment with nature's guiding rhythms.
I'm looking forward to guiding a retreat with my mom, Shirley Gillotti this coming Monday, October 12th. Not only is it the New Moon, but also a great time of year to begin turning inward again. It will be a full day of quiet reflection and journeying through the inner senses. The retreat will be held at the Angela Center in northern Santa Rosa that has beautiful walking trails and a labyrinth on the grounds. It's not too late to join us. If you'd like to attend, RSVP to the email below. Happy Fall Season everyone!
"Yoga Nidra reminds us that we always have access to a calm place within - a place that's
overflowing with love, where the essence of our true nature is known"
Last month I had the honor to assist Dr. Marc Halpern in his Yoga Nidra Certification Course at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas. Having taken the course several years prior it was a great experience to reabsorb the teachings and support other students on their journey. The ashram setting created an ideal environment for learning with a daily rhythm that included yogic practices, proper meals, minimal sensory stimulation, and community satsang.
For those who are not familiar with Yoga Nidra, it is a state of consciousness described as "yogic sleep." There are a variety of approaches and techniques, but most of them use a guided meditation to bring you into as deep of a relaxed space as you can be while remaining awake and aware (not falling asleep). This state of consciousness is much more easily understood through experience than by describing how you may feel or listing the various benefits. Once in this state, various things may come up.
The practice is to surrender and witness whatever is arising. By giving yourself permission to rest, receive, and simply be with yourself, an opportunity for healing naturally occurs.
Throughout the course I observed our group open up in the most beautiful ways. I watched as they became more aware of physical sensation in the body, as well as acute tension in the subtle body. Yoga Nidra helps to bring awareness to areas we may be avoiding, or where awareness may be lacking. This could initially result in pain or discomfort. The opportunity here it to let go. Again, and again, until there's no longer a need for holding and the prana, or energy can flow freely again. By the end of the course it seemed that everyone was walking around in an extremely calm, dream-like state. I've noticed a similar response when teaching classes back home as people drop into a great sense of familiarity and ease.
In our busy day-to-day lives it can be rare to pause and 'do nothing.' I find that most people long for this form of nurturing and rejuvenation and usually sigh with relief upon arrival to a class. "You mean I just get to lay here?!?!" Yes, you can stop. Yes, you can be still. And yes, you can let it all go. The class environment really makes us put everything down and just for that hour unplug from our daily tasks completely. I've seen remarkable accumulated effects of this practice. Not only have I seen it lower blood pressure and reduce pain, but also help retrain the nervous system to respond to stress in a new way.
You don't have to be on a beach in the Bahamas to enter this state of consciousness. It takes you beyond time and space and even beyond this body. It shows us that any level of peacefulness and beauty that we may experience, is in fact, the peacefulness and beauty that we are. It teaches us that healing is possible and that we are the creators of our lives. Above all, Yoga Nidra reminds us that we always have access to a calm place within - a place that's overflowing with love, where the essence of our true nature is known.
I'm a fan of anything that brings us into greater contact with our inner knowing and increases our capacity to radiate peacefulness in the world. If you are new to Yoga Nidra, no experience is needed and no props are needed. All that is required is your full presence and if you are just beginning, you'll need the guidance of an instructor's voice. There are a lot great resources and recordings so I recommend experimenting with a few and finding a voice and style you connect with most. I'm excited to see Yoga Nidra brought into various communities, as I whole-heartedly believe it can benefit all.
An article from the California College of Ayurveda blog:
Spring is Here ~ Time to Keep Kapha Dosha in Balance!
By Marisa Laursen, CAS, PKS, AYT
"Early spring is the season of kapha dosha, the time when kapha-balancing practices are important to follow.
In Ayurveda it is understood that many factors influence our health and well-being. Food, exercise, lifestyle, age, climate, and cycles of time all play a part. As we come to understand our bodies and minds, we find that understanding these factors is empowering, because with this information we are able to make appropriate choices to maintain health and harmony.
Each season brings with it different influences upon our constitution. By making a few lifestyle adjustments according to the season, we proactively maintain healthy balance.
During spring, the mounting heat of the sun warms the earth, which in turn causes snow to melt and water to flow. This process is mirrored within our own bodies, as the accumulated kapha (mucous) within our body starts to liquefy and disperse. This weakens the digestive fire of the body, and can lead to spring colds and sinus problems. The word "cough" comes from the Sanskrit word “kapha,” and in spring, many people experience cough and colds. As flowers shed their pollen and fragrance, many people suffer from allergy and hay fever as well.
Following are some recommendations to help maintain health and balance during this season:
See more at: https: //www.ayurvedacollege.com/blog/spring-here-time-keep-kapha-dosha-balance#sthash.V9XvKb4g.dpuf"
I'm very much looking forward to this event in a couple weeks. A dear friend and colleague of mine have been dreaming of collaborating together and now the time is ripe! We both share the love of nature, as well as offering yogic and ayurvedic practices that increase awareness and self-care. What better place to learn about ourselves and connected to one another other than being fully immersed in the elements?! Come move your body, tune in, quiet the mind, and meditate on the beauty of simply being here. Email us at: TakeAHikeWithUs@gmail.com to sign up. Xo
Another season has come and gone and we're here to mark and celebrate this "sacred juncture" with a mini day retreat. For those of you in the area, join us this Sunday for a 6-mile hike, guided meditation, and Ayurvedic education on seasonal wellness. Check out the event page for more details. In the meantime, here are some questions to reflect upon as we make this transition:
As summer is dwindling, we can all feel the change of season on the horizon. Here in Sonoma County, the past few days have been exceptionally hot and I've been enjoying the last of my favorite cooling beverages before fall comes.
Hibiscus Flowers are on that list, as they are cooling, sweet, astringent, and in Ayurveda, pitta pacifying. Hibiscus helps to purify the blood, the heart (physically and spiritually) and also improve skin complexion, the circulatory, reproductive, and nervous system.
For a simple hibiscus infusion, let 1/4 ounce of dried Hibiscus Flowers sit in 1 pint of cool water for about 15 minutes. Traditional Medicinals has a great Hibiscus Blend if you'd rather use tea bags instead of loose flowers. Locally, I recommend The Kefiry's fermented "Hibiscus Maya: Royal Flower Elixir" - very refreshing and just sweet enough. Enjoy this last week of summer! Xo
Yoga Nidra 4-Week Series starts tomorrow at the dhyana Center. Come relax and enjoy!
Jill Nussinow, also known as the Veggie Queen has just published her third book, Nutrition CHAMPS. You'll want to keep this piece of inspiration nearby, as it's loaded with plant-based recipes that take you through each food group. Her knowlege and vast experience with vegitarian cuisine is helpful not only when deciding what to cook, but how to make healthy, nutritous eating simple and enjoyable.
I had the honor of contributing four spice blends to the book, one for each season. Below is the 'Summer Seasoning Blend.' I highly recommend cooking with fresh herbs and experimenting with your own blends. It makes all the difference to enhance each meal with the tastes you love. Especially, with the bounty of fresh garden herbs this season. You can purchase Jill's book here in print or as an e-book. Happy cooking! xo
Nothing beats a refreshing drink to combat hot summer days. I had the pleasure of visiting an old friend and her kiddos in Bellingham, Washington a couple weeks back. After a day of exploring the farmer's market and soaking up the sun we decided to go home, eat some watermelon and chillll out. Wait, better yet, let's drink some watermelon. Oh wait, even better, let's add aloe and mint and make a snazzy watermelon mock-tail!
From an Ayurvedic perspective, this is a perfect summer drink. It's cooling, pitta pacifying, and hydrating. Melon's high water content helps bring fluids into the body. This is why it's recommended that melons are eaten on their own, at least one hour away from other foods to avoid bloating and heaviness. Aloe Vera is a wonderful plant that's revered for decreasing inflammation, purifying the blood, healing the skin, and supporting the liver - all of which can get aggravated during the hot pitta season. Adding mint gives an extra cooling, and calming effect. Here is our simple recipe and pics from the endeavor:
One small watermelon
1 cup of Inner Fillet Aloe Vera Juice (Whole Leaf can be too bitter)
About 2 Tbsp. fresh mint
Blend together and garish with a mint for extra snazze!
From John Doulliard's Hot Tips to Stay Cool this Summer:
"Cherries are always my signal that spring is over and summer is here. Their presence signals us that this is the last chance to get spring detox benefits. This doesn’t mean you cannot detox in the summer, it’s just that with each season nature preps different tissues for cleansing, such as the skin and liver.
Cherries are unique because they are half berry and half fruit. They look and grow like a fruit, and act like a berry in the body. Like all berries, cherries are major lymph and fatty tissue cleansers of the spring. Summer calls for foods that are higher in healthy carbohydrates (vegetables and some fruits) to drive energy for the long days of summer.
Summer is also when we begin to accumulate heat energy. The long days of activity with less rest build heat (pitta) in the body, which reaches its peak at the end of the summer.
This accumulation of heat is represented by the red and orange autumn foliage responding to the summers’ heat rising into the leaves of the trees – drying them out in preparation for fall. Falling leaves fulfill a natural detox process of getting rid of the excess accumulated heat."
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Yoga Nidra is not a practice, but rather a state of consciousness that can be achieved through particular relaxation techniques, visualizations, and body-awareness meditation. While various methods are used, most of them involve laying on your back with your eyes closed and following the guidance of an instructor’s voice through each body part. Most of all, it's about turning the awareness inward, becoming a witness to the experience, and welcoming whatever arises.
Yoga = Union, Oneness
Nidra = Sleep
Definition: "yogic sleep" or expanded awareness in a state of deep-relaxation
Although Yoga Nidra is referred to as “yogic sleep,” you don’t actually sleep, but rather come as close to the sleeping state as you can while remaining awake and present. The goal is that from our deepest level of relaxation, the physiology of the body can return to balance and healing can occur. Some known benefits of relaxation are reduced sympathetic nervous system activity (fight-or-flight response), improved functioning of the immune system, lower blood pressure, slower heart rate, improved circulation, pain reduction, and reduced inflammation.
The origins of Yoga Nidra are not precise, yet there is mention of Yoga Nidra in various ancient vedic texts like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. “Modern” pioneers in the field have been the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga, Swami Satyananda Saraswati and founder of the Himalayan Institute, Swami Rama. More currently, Dr. Richard Miller, the founder of the International Association of Yoga Therapy developed the iRest technique that has been successfully implemented into many VA hospitals and military bases to help PTSD victims. Dr. Richard Miller has also conducted several research studies that have shown the benefits of ongoing relaxation and meditation practices, as well as the unique, altered-state of Yoga Nidra.
“During Yoga Nidra, we intentionally locate and investigate sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts and images. We go into them. We explore them. We bring them into consciousness. As these impressions are allowed to float freely in awareness, without our trying to repress or express them, they arise and fade away into the background, no longer bothersome to the mind because the mind has no intention to refuse or deny their existence. This approach of pratyahahra (to draw the prana of the subtle senses inward) is a process of elimination whereby unconscious material is allowed to surface into awareness, into consciousness. When repressed material arises without personal reaction, it dissolves.” –Dr. Richard Miller (Developer of iRrest and founder of the Integrative Restoration Institute founded in 2005).
“Just sitting quietly, or say watching television, is not enough to produce the physiological changes. You need to use a relaxation technique that will break the train of everyday thought, and decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.” – Dr. Herbert (Benson of Beth Israel Hospital School in Boston, author of the Relaxation Response 1975 with updates edition in 2000).
Through PET and EEG recording, the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School (Nov. 12, 2009) found that Yoga Nidra takes people into Theta state with secondary Alpha waves meaning simultaneous deep meditation and awareness. This confirms that meditation is a fourth major state of consciousness in addition to dreaming, sleeping, and wakefulness. One can be completely aware in a deep state and one can consciously experience and control the brain’s activity simultaneously.
Overall, experiencing Yoga Nidra on a regular basis is a valuable complementary approach to supporting any healing process and to ensure overall wellbeing.
Sources & Resources:
Integration Restoration Institute - www.irest.us
Books: Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati and Yoga Nidra:
A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing by Richard Miller
There is always an excitement in the air when spring arrives. Colorful buds are blossoming, more birds are chirping, and new shoots are pushing their way through the earth. Even though winter here in Northern California was extraordinarily mild, you can feel a freshness and anticipation for the months to come.
Today on the Equinox there is equal light and darkness - an end of winter and the beginning of a three month journey to the Summer Solstice.
For several years now I've been studying yoga with Shiva Rea and learning about syncing with the rhythms of nature through various practices. Her new book, Tending the Heart Fire, beautifully illustrates the solar and lunar cycles of the year and ceremonies that take place across the world around these "sacred junctures." Living in a culture that in many ways lacks stories and myths that connect us to our environment, I find it even more important that we create some kind of ritual around these transitions. Whatever it may be, I hope we can all encourage each other to pause, reflect back, and envision the season ahead.
Here are few reflective questions that might be useful to contemplate as the landscape changes around us and within us:
*What needs to be released and let go of before entering this new season?
*What seeds are you wanting to plant for the rest of the year?
*What dietary shifts are appropriate?
(a.k.a. what is the earth providing us with now?)
*What lifestyle practices need readjusting?
I'll be writing more posts about specific Ayurvedic practices for Springtime. Until then, I recommend taking Maria Garre's webinar on April 2nd or detoxing and staying allergy-free, or reading Dr. John Douillard's article on cleansing. Also, on April 11th I'll be giving a talk at the Center for Inner Health and Stillness on tips for staying balanced in the spring. Follow this blog by email or contact me for more info and updates. Have a wonderful Equinox - may we bring ourselves fully into this new season!
I think we can all agree that the month of April was full and transformational to say the least. Astrologically, it was no joke! Everyone I've come into contact with has mentioned some major shuffling. The biggest shift in our family was the passing of my 97 year-old Grandmother. She left this earthly plane the morning of the blood full moon and her service was the following Tuesday after Easter.
Experiencing death during a time of year when there is so much life and rebirth felt appropriate in an unusual way. The visceral feelings of loss and grief has brought so much realness to everyday life and a reevaluation of what matters most and how we choose to spend our time here. This post is in honor of her strength, vivacious spirit, unforgettable lessons, and exrordinary legacy I feel beyond proud to carry on. Love always, Camina
Amongst the stress, the worry, and strategizing of life, how can we accept that this, this right here is indeed perfect? What's behind all the 'doing' when we take a step inward and listen? What happens when we make space to really be and welcome whatever arises?
Yoga Nidra, also known as "yogic sleep", is a deep relaxation practice geared toward calming the mind and nervous system. It involves laying down on your back with your eyes closed and being guided through a body-awareness meditation. This practice is designed to invoke an overall sense of ease, and help us access a peaceful place within that remains steady through all of life's ups and downs.
Join me on Wednesday mornings from 10-11:30am at the Center for Inner Health and Stillness in Santa Rosa for Yoga Nidra. Come to truly relax, let go, and enjoy the moment. A new 6-week series begins this week ($50). Contact me for details. XO
Spring has definitely arrived and I’ve been feeling the surge of activity and inspiration. Lately for me, the point of balance seems to be between holding a larger vision strong and clear while at the same time taking the necessary steps in front of me. Next week I have the honor of assisting and facilitating a week-long Pancha Karma treatment and to work along side a dear friend and colleague, Heather Anthony, the founder of Revive Ayurveda. Pancha Karma is a rejuvenation and purification process specific to each person that's geared towards deep healing from the inside out.
In the spirit of spring and cleansing, here is a staple Ayurvedic tea recipe called CCF. Those who are familiar with this blend know that CCF stands for a coriander, cumin, and fennel. These herbs that are also used a culinary spices are combined in equal proportions. They are tridoshic, meaning they're balancing for all three doshas - vata,pitta, and kapha. This tea blend is also diuretic, which helps to clear excess kapha or water accumulation, which can be present this time of year. Sip throughout the day for overall health and digestive support for before, during, or after meals.
1/2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp. Corridor Seeds
1/2 tsp. Fennel Seeds
*Boil whole herbs together with 1 1/2 cup of water for about 5 minutes.
*Steep for 10 minutes or more, then strain.
*You can also make the tea with the powdered form of each herb. Mix a 1/2 teaspoon of each with a cup of hot water.
Most of us are familiar with that time of day when our energy dips and reaching for sweets or caffeine feels like the only option. Some days it's not possible step away from the desk or task at hand and we have to power through. Last week I had a lot on my plate and got into the habit of having an afternoon snack of chai and chocolate to overcome "the slump." Although it gave me a temporary boost, it wasn't really what I needed.
Don't get me wrong, chai and chocolate are wonderful but when they're used to mask deep exhaustion or lack of sleep, it can be detrimental (trust me, I learned the hard way and got sick!). I find that when these habits orbit back around they really remind us to draw upon healthier resources and live the wisdom we know. Luckily, Ayurveda shows us many ways to work with our natural energy. For example, take a look at the 'Ayurvedic Clock' below.
The hours between 2-6pm are considered vata time. This is often the time of day when people are more spacey or ungrounded because the air and ether elements that make up the vata dosha increase. This can cause instability in the mind because air and ether have a light, mobile, and subtle nature (based on the 10 pairs of opposites used in Ayurveda to describe the doshas).
These hours can be great for creative, artistic activities, and moving the body while mentally strenuous tasks are not recommended because the mind may get distracted easily. If you have a vata constitution, you'll likely need more structure and disipline during the afternoon. If you are on the opposite side of the spectrum and have more kapha, or are generally prone to sluggishness, these hours can be motivating and inspiring to get going and begin projects.
Vata hours are also between 2-6am, which is why many people feel a surge of energy in the middle of the night if they stay up past 2am. If you have difficulty sleeping these are often the hours one wakes up. Again, because of the subtle qualities of the air and ether elements can arouse the mind.
This is also why many spiritual practices are done in the early morning when the sun is below the horizon because etheric energy is conducive for meditation and expanding consciousness. During the day however, too much air and ether can be deranging and hard on the mind and body if not managed well. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for working with vata during the day and overcoming the afternoon slump.
~~~ Tips n' Tricks ~~~
1.) Walking: Take a brisk 10 minute walk outside to increase circulation andprana, or life-force. Focus on taking deep inhalations in through the nostril and long exhalations out through the nostrils. Even if you are in a busy city, observing the trees, the sky, the birds and other aspects of nature can help calm the nervous system and settle the mind.
2.) Laying Down: If possible, lay down and close your eyes, even if it's just for a few minutes. Even better, lay down outside and have your sacrum touch the earth. Depending on how much time you have, a restorative relaxation practice like yoga nidra, (also known as yogic sleep) is great when you need a temporary rest. I have found that taking a break and recharging my system in this way makes for a much more productive day.
3.) Power Snack: When life demands you to keep going and your appetite is strong, have a high-protein, or high-energy snack. Here is a nice "treat" that will definitely leave you feeling alert and energized to get things done! Dates and almonds are ojas building, meaning they increase our vitality and immunity; while the herbs in this chai recipe are grounding, strengthening, and assist digestion. Cacao and maca add an extra kick, as they are both super-foods for endurance.
Almond Butter, Cacao Bean Stuffed Dates
*Cut dates in half and take out the pit.
*Fill with a small amount of almond butter and top with 1 cacao bean.
Rosemary's Garden - Nourishing Chai (non-caffeinated)
Contains powdered organic/wildcrafted: Maca, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Eleuthero, Licorice, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove, and Black Pepper.
*Add 1-2 teaspoons for each cup of water.
4.) Aromatherapy: Use uplifting essential oils like peppermint, pink grapefruit, or lemongrass to bring alertness and clarity. If you are feeling flustered or hyper (which tends to happen during this time of day) try grounding aromas like vetiver or jatamansi that are in Floracopia's Vata Essential Oil Blend. Use an essential oil diffuser if you have one. Or, do a simple 'palm inhalation' by placing a drop or two of oil on the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, bring your palms up to your nose, close your eyes and inhale.
5.) Creative Pursuits: This is a great time of day to dance, make art, play or listen to music. If you are working during these vata hours, try to work on the more "fun" tasks that don't require as much mental focus. Also, take breaks away from your computer or internet browsing (a very etheric activity) during the afternoon to stay as grounded as possible.
I recommend experimenting with these suggestions and see what works for you. Most importantly, it's about bringing awareness to these cycles and our varying energy levels throughout the day so we can recognize when it's time to engage and step forth, and when it's time to take a step back, recover, and conserve energy. Of course, we are all works in progress and sometimes fall into old habits, but it's never too late to self-correct. Following a proper daily routine optimizes health across the board. In this case, the ultimate goal is being able to come home at the end of a long work day and instead of zoning out, having enough energy to cook, spend time with loved ones, and do enjoyable things.
I hope this has been helpful. Good luck! ~Camina
Welcome to this blog!
"harmonize with nature, walk a path
of balance" ❤