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10 Benefits of Breathwork

  1. Reduce Anxiety: Most of us are in constant, low-grade stress and we tend to breathe shallow and quickly. Deep and conscious breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which kicks off the natural relaxation response. This is the exact opposite of a stress response. Breathe slower, deeper, and more consciously to reduce anxiety.
  2. Increase Clarity and Focus: Slow, conscious breathing fully oxygenates the brain. Try three slow, deep, conscious breaths the next time you are about to make a big decision. Feel the clarity. Notice your ability to focus more intentionally on the subject at hand.
  3. Elevate Mood: Ancient Shamanistic and Pranayama teachers in India reached altered states of consciousness through breathwork. Through a practice of noticing and, thus, controlling your breathing, you can create a consistent elevated mood with deep, slow, and conscious breaths throughout your day.
  4. Feed Healthy Cells: Cancer can’t live… where? The 1931 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Otto Warburg who discovered that cancer cells cannot thrive in a highly oxygenated environment. A preventative measure? Take deeper breaths.
  5. Allow Your Skin to Breathe: The skin is in! Deep, slow, conscious breaths stimulate blood flow to the skin for a more radiant and natural glow.
  6. Promote Digestion: A relaxed body supports proper organ function. We need healthy organ function to support our body’s unmanaged and systematic activities including digestion, elimination, and absorption.
  7. Eliminate Oxidative Stress: Deliberate breathing delivers more oxygen to your tissues. This increases the amount of oxygen in the body’s tissues and reduces the risk of hundreds of diseases.
  8. Reduce Cravings: Deep, conscious breathing can avert the need for an outside substance. Next time you reach for the diet soda (or whatever your vice is!), take three conscious breaths and ask yourself if you really want the side effects from it. Feel the empowerment within yourself. Go from substances to substance.
  9. Lower Blood Pressure: Long, slow, deep breaths fully oxygenate the heart muscle. This reduces heart rate and blood pressure.
  10. Sleep Sweetly: Deep, conscious breathing is known to stimulate the pineal gland, which is associated with sleep patterns. You may also notice more lucid dreaming.

From http://www.bobsima.com

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What if?

What if yoga and meditation were taught in elementary schools and considered as important as math, science, and English? 

What would happen if we all understood that, no matter what the issue we are dealing with, we have unlimited access to top notch pharmaceuticals that are always available to us (and personalized for us) and that they were already inside of us, accessed by practicing simple and ancient yogic practices?

What if we we were empowered by the knowing that our breath is so intelligent and healing, that not only can we use it to create happier mind states and to heal ourselves of old wounds, but also that we can add quality and balance to our lives simply by being mindful of and balancing our breath?

What if all of us knew that we had the ability to expedite healing in others (and ourselves) by our words, our touch, our thoughts, and our love?

What if we were taught that everything we need is already inside of us?

What would the world look like?

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Kitchari, My Way

 

Kitchari means mixture, and in this case, it is usually of a grain and a legume.  (HELLO, PERFECT PROTEIN!)  I like using brown rice and split red lentils (red split lentils cook hella fast!) but that's me.  Mung beans are supposed to be one of the heathiest legume choice, and basmati rice is a very popular grain option.  But please, be creative (think quinoa as your grain!) I always make this with different vegetables and spices, even though in the classical Ayurvedic recipe the spices remain pretty much the same.

So easy.  So delicious.  So versatile.  A detoxifying food that is great for graceful transitioning into the colder months and also wonderful for digestion.  I really like using a pressure cooker, as it makes it possible to have delicious homemade kitchari ready for your consumption in nearly 10 minutes, but remember to check the cooking time for the legume and grain you are using and adjust accordingly.  You can always put something back on the stove, however it is impossible to unburn something!

kitchari

yum!

 

I fell in love with this dish when I was in India.  After an intensive cleanse, in order to balance and nurture our squeaky clean inner-body, all we could eat was basic kitchari with a very generous drizzling of ghee.  It was during this process that I learned to love ghee.  (it's great for replenishing Ojas and also helps your pranayama practice!)  Luckily, ghee is easy to find nowadays, but if you are a vegan or can't find or make it, I have used olive oil and coconut to prepare this dish as well.  

For a traditional variation you will need:  (serves about 6)

(spice measurements are estimated, please listen to your tastebuds and inner guide and adjust accordingly!)

enough ghee to cover the bottom of your pressure cooker (or oil of choice)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp Coriander

1 c Grain (rice)

1 c Legume (Red split lentil)

4 c water

Optional:

Garam Masala (or curry powder)

*Ginger, chopped or blended with a splash of water

cilantro or parsley/spinach (to add at the end)

Garlic, onion (These are generally A NO NO in ayurvedic diet as they create disruption of the mind, but frankly I really enjoy them so I don't care.  :)  )

Chopped Veggies (Be creative!  Sky is the limit!  whatever you have in your fridge, but remember to add more water than recipe calls for)

Directions:  

Add oil to pressure cooker and let warm on medium heat

Add Mustard and cumin seeds and simmer till mustard seeds start popping

add garlic and onion if using and stir occasionally till translucent

add veggies and stir occasionally till nicely lubricated with flavorful ghee 

add all other spices, your grain, your legume, and water.  

Cover with pressure cooker lid and bring to boil on high heat.  Once you hear the pressure cooker has reached maximum pressure, place on low heat and let cook for 10 more minutes (adjust time as needed)

When cook time is reached, either remove from heat and let cool down, or if you are pressed for time, place pressure cooker underneath cold running water to expedite the pressure release process.  (ALWAYS READ PRESSURE COOKER INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE USING!)

When kitchari is still piping hot I like to add huge handfuls of spinach, and sometimes parsley or cilantro to give it a nice herbal flavor.

Serve in a bowl and top with avocado, a splash of ghee or evo, salsa, yogurt, handful of almonds, splash of lemon, or whatever makes your heart content.  

Try it out and let me know how it goes!

 

 

 

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A Love Letter

A love letter to you:

May your heart and your day be filled with magical synchronicity, expansive breaths, gratitude, and love.

If this doesn't seem possible today, may you allow yourself to experience with curiosity whatever else it is you may be feeling, especially any pain, numbness, agitation, or other discomfort - and despite these unsettling feelings may you smile broadly and deeply into yourself, knowing that you are lucky to be alive, that you are much stronger than you think, and that any discomfort you might be feeling is powerful fertilizer for your growth and also temporary.

With love,
Me

Photo by @yogipia and made possible by the generous technical sharings of @bigcameraman

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Truth

"We are not angels, we are merely sophisticated apes. Yet we feel like angels trapped inside the bodies of beasts, craving transcendence and all the time trying to spread our wings and fly off, and it's really a very odd predicament to be in, if you think about it."

Vilayanur S. Ramachandran

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Santosha (contentment)

It has been very interesting and challenging for me to adapt back to the consumeristic and materialistic Western world life after living in India for four months this year-where I survived (very happily) without a full length mirror to check out my ass, or good lighting for makeup (I wore none), where I was without the need to be fashionable because spirituality and self-realization are more important there, and relieved by the simplicity of the marketplace without ten different options for each thing I might need to buy. A place where high quality products are sold at a reasonable price because companies have not yet caught on to to our western trend of taking advantage of people. A place where relationships matter more than time and everywhere you look you are reminded that your previous ideas of the way life is and should be were not exactly spot on.

Recently when I was sharing my feelings of how I longed to be back in spiritual India with one of my teachers, Cherie Rae, she reminded me that our human souls were put here simply to learn to love and to be of service.  Though this may seem very simplistic, it feels like absolute and beautiful and glistening truth to me. It is so easy to get caught in the hamster wheel of thought that we need more and don't have enough. We become so willing to buy whatever is thrown at us in our desperate attempt at filling the "void" and at solving this mystery that is contentment...when the answer is simple.  Contentment (Santosha) does not come from the outside.

Deep satisfaction and contentment comes from our ability to be fully present, awake, and brutally truthful with ourselves (Satya).  Truthfulness isn't as easy as it sounds. It takes a practice of ongoing and deep inquiry.

We can also find contentment by intentionally spreading joy and by the practice of karma yoga.

So instead of trying to satiate my desire for contentment by buying stuff I don't need but I think might make me happy (sometimes this manifests as a dirty chai from Starbucks in between clients, or the fake need for a plastic bottle of water I will drink and chunk into the already full landfills), I pledge to first ask myself first: how can I LOVE more, and how and where can I be of service. Chances are there is a better way to spend my energy.

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