SEASONAL SELF-CARE BLOG


Spring Yang Pose

Posted on June 2nd, 2015


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Spring Asana practice, hip opening, liver/gall bladder meridian

Spring Yang Pose: Eka pada Galvanasana (flying pigeon)
Leigh Evans

As a yogi, I am a deep explorer of ways to open the inner landscape of the body and mind. I love creating practices to target the areas where prana or chi is congested in the body. I know that these tight, stagnant places are actually a gold mine for awakening. They are energy pathways or meridians that are blocked. Like a river that is thwarted by a fallen tree branch, once the meridians are opened, the energy that is stuck will freely move and create a free flowing river of energy.

Transition from Spring into Summer by intensifying your yoga practice with Spring yang asanas to cleanse the liver and gall bladder organs and meridians. Release congestion and awaken chi/prana.  According to Chinese Medicine, Spring is the season of the wood element, the desire for expansion and growth reflected in the small tender seeds growing into towering trees. Movement from all living things surges to the surface to greet the face of spring.  The energy of the liver echoes the ascending, flowing, spreading nature of Spring and the wood element. The rising energy of Spring increases the liver’s ascending energy and increases the flushing of accumulated toxins. Therefore in Spring, we bump into any congestion, stagnation or deficiency in the liver and gall bladder organ and meridians.

Eka pada galvanasana is one of my favorite hip opening asanas. As a person with liver congestion, I have benefited greatly from practicing it. Eka pada galvanasana is a beautiful and challenging asana which deeply opens the gall bladder meridian, running through shoulders, side body and outer hips. It simultaneously awakens energy in the liver meridian in the inner legs.

Prepare the hips for Eka pada galvanasana with supine ankle to knee and pigeon pose.

Have fun!

 

 

 

 

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6 Steps to Help your Body Detoxify & get Ready for the Summer

Posted on May 28th, 2015


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image1Enjoy these great Spring detox tips from Morena Escardo, Holistic Health Coach and author of Detox Juicing: 3-Day, 7-Day, and 14-Day Cleanses for Your Health and Well-Being!

Just as the night is the sacred time when our bodies cleanse and replenish, so is the spring the time of year when the liver is the most active, and hence, when our bodies cleanse and replenish the most. This season awakens the urge in our whole being to cleanse itself from the old, and to make space for the new things that are ready to bloom. The need to do a spring cleanse of our homes, and throw everything that is not useful to us anymore, may in fact be an outward expression of what´s going on inside our bodies and minds.

These past few days the temperature has began to rise and the increased humidity in the air is a clear sign that the summer is quickly approaching (some days it feels like it already has). Luckily, we still have some time to boost our inner cleansing process if we haven’t yet, and to make the most of the following weeks to get our bodies, minds, and souls ready for a joyful transition into the summer.
Yoga and meditation, of course, are two very useful practices to help us detoxify and release that which doesn’t serve us anymore at a very deep level. Juice cleanses or short fasts may also be of help when done with awareness, with great care (and if possible the help of a professional who can guide you), and when you listen to your body and don’t go to unhealthy extremes. Other than these three great options, there are some daily habits you can acquire for the next three weeks of spring (or even better, forever!), which will enhance your health and well-being for the rest of the year, and which you can use during this season again in the future.

1. Dry scrub your skin every morning when you wake up. Move the scrub in upward motion towards the heart, working your way from your feet up through your whole body. Skin is the body´s largest organ, and a large amount of toxins is released through it. By scrubbing it, you will be helping this process, improving circulation, and stimulating the lymphatic system so it does a better job at getting rid of toxins.

2. Use a neti pot for nasal irrigation. This may look and feel weird at first, but with practice and perseverance, it may become as automatic and essential in your daily self care routine as brushing your teeth. The nasal passages can store dirt, bacteria, viruses, and other unfriendly substances, and this practice helps clean them out more easily. Most neti pots come with easy to follow instructions, so I won’t describe the process in detail here.

3. Use a tongue scraper first thing in the morning. That white coating over the tongue after a long night’s sleep is one of your body’s ways to get rid of the toxins it released while you were asleep. If you don’t get rid of it, and you go ahead with your breakfast or drink some water when you wake up, you will be swallowing back many of those toxins. Tongue scrapers are the solution. Like the neti pot and the dry scrubbing, it may take some time to get used to, but once it becomes a part of your daily routine, you will do it as soon a you wake up without even thinking about it.

4.Go to sleep early (if not every day, at least try to do this as often as you can). Just as the liver is more active during the spring, making this the ideal time to cleanse your body deeply, the night is the time of the day when your liver wakes up and does its detoxing shift. Being asleep by 10pm is ideal to help the liver maximize its job. This may be difficult in the spring, when we feel like spending more time outdoors and the days become longer, but at least do it a few times a week and you will greatly enhance your body’s ability to detox. Which takes me to point #5.

5. If possible, have an early dinner. I used to complain about the American habit of having dinner at 6pm, because in Peru we like to eat pretty late. After studying Ayurveda, however, my perception shifted and I realized how good of a habit early eating is. In Ayurveda it’s recommended that we don’t eat after the sun sets, because the energy of the sun (pitta) helps us digest our food. In detox terms, if our body is busy digesting dinner, it won’t put enough energy into the liver’s detoxifying job, which as I mentioned in point #4, starts at around 10pm. The goal should be to have an empty stomach by 10pm, so try to eat at least 2 hours before going to sleep, or earlier if possible.

6. Eat seasonal foods. Each season, nature gifts us with exactly what we need to thrive at that moment of the year. Bitter greens and veggies like arugula and artichokes abound during the spring, because these foods help with the body’ detoxification process. Summer, fall, and winter foods are all excellent too, but contain particular nutrients and qualities that may not be as important for your health right now, or in some cases may even weaken it a bit. For example, if you eat lots of cucumbers and coconut water in the winter, you will feel cold all the time, which is the opposite of what you want then. Stick as much as possible to seasonal produce, and your body will thrive.

Morena yoga picMorena Escardó is the author of Detox Juicing: 3-Day, 7-Day, and 14-Day Cleanses for Your Health and Well BeingDelightful Quinoa Recipes, The Peruvian Kitchen, and The Everything Peruvian Cookbook. Morena studied philosophy and literature, lived in Peru, England, Spain and the US, worked as a book and magazine editor, and managed a home cookie business for 3 years. In 2011, she created the Peruvian food blog Peru Delights together with her mother, where she focuses on the superfoods and healthy dishes of her country’s cuisine, and creates vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and sugar free versions of traditional dishes.

Check out Morena’s website for fabulous healthy recipes and her book Detox Juicing! (@morenaescardo)

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Spring Cleanse

Posted on May 13th, 2015


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Tara lotus flower
I just made my first batch of Kitchari for my Spring cleanse. It is delicious and I feel ready to detox! Now that the weather is warm, it’s the perfect time to dive in and do your Spring cleanse! In fact every cell in your body is begging you to cleanse the congestion out of your liver and gall bladder organs. Once cleansed, your will feel calm, stress and tension free, decisive, insightful, emotional ease, and in contact with our personal power and capacity for leadership that are the attributes of a balanced liver network. Invite a state of balance and vibrancy into you being!

It is often difficult to slow down our busy lives and take the time to properly do a juice cleanse. Particularly if you are vata dosha, it is more effective do a traditional Indian Kitchari cleanse for 3-5 days. Kitchari is a simple cleansing highly nutritious combination of mung beans and rice. It both cleanses your system and strengthens your memory.

Whether you choose to do a juice cleanse, or a mono diet like kitchari, it is essential to offer ways for the toxins to leave your body. I find it most effective while doing a cleanse to be sure to continue to take plenty of balancing, nourishing and purifying baths. The skin is the largest organ in your body and a large part of our detoxification process. See our Spring Practices post on purifying seaweed baths!

KITCHARI
by Annie Kunjappy
chef for Yoga Sukhavati Seasonal self-care workshops

1 cup mung beans (soaked overnight)
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 onion diced
8 cloves garlic chopped
1 cup finely sliced leeks
1” piece ginger chopped
4 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup chopped scallions
½ cup chopped cilantro/parsley
Sea salt and lime/lemon juice to taste

Cook mung bean in pot with 4 cups of water and a half teaspoon of sea salt until soft.
Cook basmati rice in 2 cups of hot water until done.
In a separate pan, heat coconut oil, sauté onions until soft. Add leek and continue until soft. Add garlic, ginger, coriander and turmeric and sauté for 1 minute.
Mixed together the cooked beans and liquid with the cooked rice, and the sauted ingredients.
Add chopped scallions and cilantro.
Season with lime juice and sea salt to taste.

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