According to Ayurveda, springtime is mostly considered the kapha season(depending on where you live) and it's the time of year when the earth and water elements have increased. This can lead to heaviness, sluggishness, water retention, and excess mucus. A common analogy is that it's like the sun melting the winter snow causing water to flow and rivers to flood. Because of this excess water, drying foods can be helpful (depending on your constitution and current imbalances, of course!). Millet is one of the more drying grain-like seeds that can aggravate vata in excess or in the colder and dryer months, but in the spring it can be a nice, light, alternative to rice or other heavier grains. Millet is gluten-free, alkalinizing, and high in protein (22 grams per cup).
SPRING MILLET SALAD WITH CREAMY DILL DRESSING
Vegan + Gluten Free. Serves 2-4
1 cup millet
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
Large handful fresh pea pods, peas removed and rinsed
1 bunch pink radishes, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 + cups fresh herbs (dill, mint, chives, etc.)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight
1/2 cup packed fresh dill
Juice + zest one lemon
1 clove garlic, optional
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil|
1/3 cup water, as needed, to thin
Salt + Pepper to taste
Cook the millet. First, rinse, drain, and soak the millet (for a least a couple hours) then toast in a small pot over medium heat until fragrant and toasty, about 2-3 minutes. Then add 2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit for a few minutes, then fluff with a fork. Let cool.
To make the dressing, place all ingredients except for water in a small high speed blender and blend until smooth, adding water as needed for desired consistency.
Toss cooled millet with sliced fennel, peas, radishes, spring onions and herbs. Add in a big scoop of dressing, toss to coat and combine. Add more as needed. Finish with a little olive oil and fresh lemon zest. Recipe and food photos by: www.happyheartedkitchen.com.
Winter Kale Quinoa Salad
This fall recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, '7 Center's Ayurvedic Cookbook' compiled by Ayurvedic Chef, Mira Murphy. You can use other varieties of squash or even pumpkin to add more seasonal flare. Enjoy!
Butternut Squash Soup | Serves 6
Ghee 2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp nutmeg
few pinches cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger root (peeled and grated or diced)
1 medium sized butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
2 yams chopped into bite sized cubes
6 cups vegetable stock (homemade preferred), or water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp succanut
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
***Cover the bottom of your pot with ghee and warm until melted. Add garam masala, nutmeg, cayenne, turmeric and fresh ginger and warm until fragrant (be careful not to burn the spices). Add the cubed squash and yams and stir until coated with ghee/spice mixture. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the vegetables are soft. Meanwhile place the pumpkin seeds in a pan and heat until they become golden. Blend the soup with a hand blender or transfer in small batches into a blender. Serve hot and garnish each bowl with roasted pumpkin seeds and fresh parsley.
It's summer. It's hot. We need to cool down, somehow!? In Ayurveda, we don't recommend drinking iced beverages because cold foods and drinks can put out the digestive fire, known as agni. Instead, here is a very simple recipe that will reduce heat in the body and reduce the pitta dosha.
Pitta becomes aggravated in the warmer months and it's important to incorporate calming and cooling practices to avoid agitation and other inflammatory symptoms.
By taking care of our bodies and minds properly in each season we can smoothly transition from one to the next without discomfort. The more knowledge we have about our unique constitution and how we are effected by various climates and terrains, the easier it is to apply the wisdom of Ayurveda.
Give this recipe a go and take a long exhale to enjoy the summer. Have fun and hydrate it up! xo
**Sublime Cucumber Lime**
pinch of sea salt
aloe vera juice (optional)
Pour purified water into a large pitcher (around 24oz.). Peel the cucumber partially or all the way and cut into small pieces. Squeeze the lime into the pitcher. Add a pinch of sea salt. I like Himalayan Salt, or Atlantic Grey for it's moisture content. These high mineral sea salt provide electrolytes that we often loose through sweat. You may also want to try adding aloe vera juice to your drink to increase the cooling effect. Aloe vera supports the liver, one of the pitta organs and is very purifying. If you are new to using aloe vera, try the Inner Fillet Juice since it's less bitter.
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!
Welcome to this blog!
"harmonize with nature, walk a path
of balance" ❤