ayurveda

Body Bliss Life and Daughters of Culture 5-Day Yogic Lifestyle Challenge

Join Amrit-Sadhana of Body Bliss Life & Daughters of Culture 

for a 5-day yogic lifestyle treat!

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Living a yogic lifestyle can bring flow, simplicity & ease to your life. Even adding a few yogic techniques can make a difference. As a community we will cook together, meditate together & connect with ourselves & each other.

With December comes the Winter Holidays & with the Winter Holidays can come stress & anxiety. For some, this time of year can be really challenging emotionally. Going through the holiday's having stability & balanced emotions will keep your stress low & your nervous system strong.

We are very excited to share this with you, as we are coming to the closure of 2018 we feel this is a nice way of us coming together as a community, as a true sisterhood.

This meditation was taught by Yogi Bhajan in November 1991, he said “This meditation is especially useful for dealing with stressful relationships and with past family issues. lt addresses phobias, fears, and neuroses. It can remove unsettling thoughts from the past that surface into the present. It can take difficult situations in the present and release them into the Hands of Infinity.”

This meditation with instructions can be found HERE.  (Link: https://www.3ho.org/3ho-lifestyle/authentic-relationships/stress-relief-and-clearing-emotions-past)

December 13th at 6 PM PST we will do this meditation together on IG Live as a community.

Ayurvedic Adaptogenic Latte:

I love adding herbs and adaptogens to my morning brew. They help to support my nervous system and make delicious lattes. You can choose to use coffee, matcha or a non caffeinated drink for this recipe, it’s up to you. Listen to your body each morning. Maybe one morning you feel like coffee and others, you will feel like tea. If you’re not used to introducing fats into your morning beverage, start with 1 tsp and build from there.

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  • 1 cup coffee or tea

  • 1/2 cup nut milk (if you don’t make your own, try and find one with a short list of ingredients. Malk is great!)

  • 1 tsp to 1 T ghee or coconut oil

  • 1/2 date

  • 1 tsp ashwagandha

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger and cardamom

Blend everything in your high speed blender and pour into your favorite mug. Wrap your hands around your mug and set an intention for the day.


Ayurvedic Morning Porridge:

  • 1 cup steel cut oats (soaked overnight, This is a MUST as it will help with digestion and cut the cooking time in half)

  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water

  • 1/2 cup nut milk

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a saucepan over medium high head combine oats, water, milk and turmeric. Bring to a bowl and reduce to a simmer. Cook until oats are soft (this should only take about 10 minutes since you have soaked them). Add cinnamon, ginger and applesauce. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat and stop with hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds or almond butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy Notes: This porridge is great for the winter months as it is going to help to warm you from the inside out. The cinnamon and apple will help to balance blood sugar while the turmeric and ginger provide anti-inflammatory properties. The oats are loaded with fiber to keep you full for a longer time. If you cannot tolerate oats: you can use a mixture of chia seeds and shredded coconut. Combine 1 cup nut milk with 1/4 cup hemp chia seeds and a 1/3 cup shredded coconut. Prepare as directed without the water and using the chia and coconut as the oats.


As yogis, we eat simple diets. We do not eat anything that can’t be digested within 24 hours which is often why meat is not on the menu (although, I truly believe in intuitive eating and if that is what serves your body, this is a completely judgement free zone). A great way to cleanse the body it with a kitcheri diet. You can choose to eat this simple lentil and rice porridge for every meal or you can choose to eat it for one meal a day and supplement with steamed veggies,

salads and simple meals the other two. This is a traditional recipe given by Yogi Bhajan with a few personal adjustments. 

  • 4 1/2 cup filtered water or veg broth

  • 1/2 cup whole mung beans, soaked overnight

  • 1/4 cup white basmati rice or quinoa

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped ginger

  • 3 cups chopped veggies (I find carrots, cauliflower, zucchini and broccoli works best)

  • 1 T ghee or coconut oil

  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder

  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp coriander

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a big soup pot, over medium heat, melt ghee and add onions, ginger, garlic and spices. Cook until the onions have just begun to caramelize. Add veggies, stirring occasionally so they do not stick. Rinse the soaked mung beans and the rice and add to pot. Stir until coated in onion and spice mixture. Add water or vegetable stock and salt. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and let cook until the rice or quinoa have broke down and let cook until the rice or quinoa have broke down and thickened the mixture. Taste and add extra salt, if needed. Store in a glass container in your refrigerator.

Can be served with a spoonful of ghee, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Here is your Yogic Schedule for the week:

  • Wake up 15-30 minutes earlier than your usually schedule to have time for your morning practice and meditation.

  • Hydro Therapy is optional, but I highly recommend giving it a try. Once you are done with your warm shower in the morning, turn your shower to cold and run your body as the cold water hits your skin. Make sure that you tune around to get your back, legs, arms, face etc. Bonus if you can hop straight into a cold shower, but I’ve been a yogi most of my life and the only time I can do that is the middle of Summer when its 100 degrees outside. If you are on your moon cycle, this is not advised as it increases blood flow and your body needs to focus on releasing what no longer serves it at this time.

It is also advised to start slow if you have high blood pressure or sciatica issues.

Benefits of Hydro Therapy:

• Opens capillaries and clears toxins at the deepest level of the body

• strengthens the immune system

• strengthens the nervous system

• prevents fatty liver

• increases metabolism

• improves circulation and flushes the organs

I don’t want to give you an outline with times because I feel that everyone has their own schedule so I am going to give you a layout for a day.

1. Wake up, drink a quart of warm water (you can add a squeeze of lemon if you’d like), get ready (cold shower!)

2. Make breakfast and adaptogenic latte

3. Morning practice with Emotional Balance meditation

4. Journal 3 things you are grateful for :)

5. Be mindful of your thoughts throughout the day. Allow emotions as they come, write them down if you need but see if you can honor them, feel them and then make no judgements.

6. Get some movement in! Walk, run, dance, however you choose to move is your choice, just move!

7. Drink TONS of water. 3 quarts if you can.

8. Make your kitcheri ahead of time so it is easy to heat it up for your meals. Serve with sides of steamed greens, salads, or steamed veggies. Keep your diet simple and allow your body to find flow in the simplicity.

9. Stop to check in with your body and breath several times a day

10. Keep a journal and write about your experience at the end of each day. 

  • Do you feel more or less connected? 

  • Do you feel more or less grounded?

The intention for this week is to help you to connect with your highest self, let go of what isn’t serving you & ground you deeply for the holiday season. Cultivating community is a huge passion of mine & collaborating with Daughters of Culture Sisters is a great way for us to unite. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at bodyblisslifepdx@gmail.com.

Guided & Led by Amrit-Sadhana of Body Bliss Life

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How I've learned to cope with anxiety

This post has been a long time coming. I often get messages from people via instagram asking me if I deal with anxiety and if so, how do I cope. I thought it would be most beneficial to write it all down in one place. 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am speaking from my own experience and providing tips in hopes that it will help someone. If you deal with severe anxiety and anxiety attacks and feel it is interfering with your life, please reach out to a mental health professional. 

The short answer is, YES! I do have anxiety. Is it all the time? No. Is it more than the average person? Maybe. I remember being a very young child, maybe 2 or 3 and telling my mom I had a "funny feeling in my tummy." Looking back, I realize that was anxiety. The way it manifests may have changed throughout the years, but I have lived with anxiety most of my life. As a result, I have collected different tools and ways to cope that have helped immensely. I still deal with anxiety: Some days are better than others and sometimes I am freaking out inside when I look like I have it together on the outside. It's not about perfection, but progress and helping yourself to feel grounded and safe. 

Anxiety comes in so many forms and with so many different names. It can range from butterflies in your stomach to being doubled over, not being able to breath and feeling like you're having a heart attack and everywhere in between.

Figuring out the why can be helpful, but it can also engage the mind and make things worse. For me, if I can track the trigger, then I immediately know the why. This doesn't come as easy for everyone. If you find your mind racing to find the why, then maybe that doesn't matter in the moment. That is when I will start with my first suggestion...

Meditation and Breathwork:

For me, my anxiety is the worst when I am not in my body. When my mind goes to worst case scenario and I start to future trip like I'm getting paid. This is where I use my yogic training to get back into my body and bring me into the present. The first thing I do is either sit in a chair with my feet flat on the floor or in a crosslegged position on the floor. Place your palms face down on your thighs. I take 5 deep breaths (as deep as I can get). The intention is to make each breath longer then the previous. I then do a body scan from my toes to the top of my head. Checking in with each part of my body and bringing myself fully into the present moment in my body. If I'm still feeling anxious after this, I will do some spine circles or cat cows and I will mentally chant the words "Sat" (pronounced saht) on the inhale and "nam" (pronounced nahm) on the exhale. "Sat" means truth and "nam" means name or identity so you are connecting with your true identity. It is impossible for your mind to focus on more than one thought at a time so focusing on a simple mantra (you could even use "let" on inhale and "go" on exhale) will keep you focused just on that and hopefully help to relieve some of the anxiety

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Move your body and get outside:

For me, exercise has been one of the biggest components in helping me to cope with my anxiety. Hard cardio works best for me, but sometimes just getting outside for a walk, breathing the fresh air and feeling the circulation moving in my body does the trick as well. When I get a good sweat in 3-5 times a week, overall my anxiety is significantly better the on weeks when I just don't get it in. It really doesn't matter how you move your body, it's just important that you move. On days when I just don't have the time, I will get out for just a 10 minute walk or hop on my rebounder for a few minutes just to move the stuff around. When endorphins are released, it interacts with receptors in your brain that reduce pain and trigger a positive feeling in your body that is similar to morphine. Have you have done a really hard workout and halfway through start crying for no reason? Its because your body is moving emotion that has been stuck. I find that stuck emotion causes anxiety so get your body moving and move it regularly!

Journaling:

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Having a place to put your anxious thoughts is powerful. There are three ways we move emotion through out body: breath, sound and movement. Journaling is considered movement as you are moving your hand to get the words out. When our minds get the best of us, sometimes the best thing, for me, is to sit down and let it ALL out on paper. Without judging myself or editing myself. All the dirty, ugly, neurotic, catastrophic thoughts. There is nobody there to judge you or tell you you're wrong. There is nobody there to tell you you are too much or that you need to "calm down." It can all come out on those pieces of paper and when you are done you can close it up, put it somewhere safe and move on. If those thoughts come back, you go back and write some more. You write until you have nothing more to write.

Journaling has always been one of my most powerful tools. One of my favorite exercises to do it to grab 4-5 different colors pens and start writing on one page. I then write horizontally, diagonally, words over other words. When you're done you are left with a beautiful mess of colors and I always feel lighter. 

Products that help:

For me, managing my anxiety has been a lifestyle change. One of self care, checking in with myself, meditating, exercising and listening to what my body needs. I am going to share a few supplement and products that I have found to be very helpful. 

Ashwagandha: 

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic adaptogen (an herb that helps the body adapt to stress) used to strengthen the adrenal and nervous system. It has a wonderful calming effect. In a study, ashwagandha was used in place of lorazepam and found to be just as effective as the prescriptions drug. My favorite brand of ashwagandha is Sun Potion. This company tests three times throughout the process for toxins and heavy metals (which are common in things grown in India and China). They are also certified organic and has been most effective, for me. I simply put it into my morning drink and enjoy. 

Reishi:

Reishi is a functional mushroom and is also an adaptogen. It is known as the Queen of Plants. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries. When used regularly, the mushrooms effects build in the body and can be quite effective. My husband says that he feels the effects of reishi immediately and that it works better than anything else he has tried. In studies it has been shown to effectively reduce anxiety with 4 to 6 weeks of regular use. It can also combat depression and fatigue. The only reishi I use is from Root and Bones. Use code "bodyblisslife" for a discount. 

Rescue Remedy:

This is a product I have been using as long as I can remember. My mom always had a vial (or 5) of it. It's a homeopathic remedy and it truly works. If you feel an anxiety attack coming on or just have that low grumble of butterflies in your stomach, you take a few droppers full and within a few minutes start to feel the calming effects. Since then, the company has released several other Rescue Remedy infused products. If you can't do alcohol (as it is alcohol based), the pastilles are a good alternative. They even have a sleep formula. 

Integrative Therapeutics Lavela:

These little lavender pills have changed the game for me. I keep a strip of them in my purse and as soon as i feel anything come on, I pop one in my mouth. Within 20 minutes, I feel a sense of calm wash over me. When I'm having a hard time, I will take one each morning preventatively. I am so grateful I found these and that they have made their way into my life. I have recommended them to several clients and they all report back that they work. They also give you a lovely essence of lavender in your mouth. :)

Plant Therapy "Worry Free":

This lovely essential oil blend has all the properties to relax the body and mind. I love to use it before meditating, before bed, in the morning or whenever I am feeling a little anxious. I place several drops in the palm of my hand, run my hands together to warm it up and then cup my hands around my nose taking several deep inhales. I take the remaining oil and rub it on the back of my neck, my chest and inside my wrists. 

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Anxiety is different for everybody. Learning to cope with or live with it is a journey and may look different from person to person. These are just a few things I have found to be effective and lasting. I still deal with anxiety, but I have found a good self care system that works for me. Recognizing when it's coming on and knowing what will be best for me to help calm and ground myself. Sometimes I do all of these things and sometimes a simple walk in the fresh air helps. I hope that you find these suggestions helpful and, as always, if you have any questions please leave a comment or email me. 

 

Moon Cycle Survival Guide

I was 11 when I got my moon cycle for the first time and along with it came all the symptoms. The women in my family have all coped with heavy cramping, bloating and hard periods. I'm talking doubled over, nauseous, mind-numbing cramps from knees to mid back, black out pain. I'm grateful I have a hippy yogi mom and to grow up in an Ayurvedic home to help me learn what would work for my body. 

When I went to a gynecologist, they thought maybe I had endometriosis, but that was quickly thrown out. The next "resolution" was to put me on birth control, which we did not do. Over the years I tried cutting out all sugar, caffeine, hard cardio, warm compresses, prescription pain medication (which just made me high and didn't actually take the pain away), you name it, I've most likely tried it. 

Over the years I have collected recipes, remedies and techniques that have helped me to cope. For me, one of the most powerful tools I learned is to just recognize that this is how my body cycles. I put this guide together to make it as gentle as possible. Not saying this is how all women's bodies cycle. If you truly feel like something is off, I recommend finding a naturopath or gynecologist that you like and trust to see if there is something else going on. I am not a doctor and am just sharing what I have found works for me. 

Warm Gingner Tea: 2-3 Days before my cycle and the first few days of my cycle, I sip on ginger tea. This is an Ayurvedic recipe and it makes a huge difference. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and will help with bloating, indigestion and cramping. I will make a big batch of this tea each morning and sip on it throughout the day. Adding a bit of honey will up the anti-inflammatory factor. 

  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 3 inche fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup nut milk
  • honey to taste (optional)

In a saucepan, bring the water and ginger root to a boil and let it roll until reduced by about a 1/3. Add the milk and remove from the heat. Pour into a mug and add honey to taste.

 

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  • Pain Management: I used to pop 4 ibuprofen every 8 hours when I was on my cycle because it was the only thing that would touch the pain. I finally found a combination of supplements and herbs that really work.  I work in a chiropractic clinic and we sell a product called Formula 303. These magical pills are an herbal muscle relaxant made from valerian, magnesium and passion flower extract. They work like a dream not only for cramps but also tension headaches and muscle tightness. I take 2 every 3-4 hours to stay on top of the pain for the first 3 days of my cycle. I have found that these are not as effective is the cramping is already really bad. I have to make sure I take them at the first sign of cramping. I also take a dose of CBD each morning and evening to help with inflammation and pain. I currently use Select CBD.  I have been really happy with this source but don't necessarily think its the only one or the best one out there. Do you research and make sure you are getting it from an organic source. I will be doing a whole blog post on CBD soon.  When things get really painful I will add a Valerian Tincture, as well. This is formulated by the doctor I work for, but you can find valerian tinctures at most health food stores. 
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  •  Free and Easy Wanderer: This is a Chinese herb combination developed to help support the female reproductive system. When I am good about taking this every day, it makes a difference in my cycles. I take one dropper-full each morning in my glass of water. 
  • Ashwadangha: This Ayurvedic herb is truly amazing for the entire body. It helps to support the adrenal glands, nervous system and reproductive system. It very high in iron (if you have extra heavy periods, mix ashwagandha with molasses and nut milk). I take this herb almost every day. I feel that it helps keep my body in balance, and it also strengthens the uterine wall. Sun Potion is my favorite source for powdered extract. It is organic and tested for heavy metals (this is extremely important for products that come out of India). Portland Ashwagandha Farm makes a really great tincture as well. 

Note: I am also planning a post on adaptogens to support  your moon cycle so stay tuned for that!

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  • Warm Epsom Salt Baths and Hot Water Bottle: I'm a sucker for a warm bath. When cramping is really heavy, I light a candle, fill the tub, add epsom salts and climb in. I use this time to meditate and connect with my body. Sometimes I read a book, but it really helpful for me to just sit and listen to my body. I will place my hands on my abdomen and breathe through the discomfort. The warm water and epsom salts help to ease the cramping as well as low back pain and body aches. On days when a bath isn't possible or it's just too hot outside, I will curl up on the couch with a hot water bottle tucked next to tummy. This makes a huge difference and feels warming and comforting to my body. 

  •  Movement: Some people find it helpful to do cardio or movement while on their cycles. My body does not like it. I have a tendency to do very gentle and slow yogic stretches and gentle slow walks. This way my body is still moving, but not exerting. It's already working so hard to expel what no longer serves it. Some yoga poses that feel very soothing to my body are child's pose, gentle camel pose, and sitting in easy pose with both hands gently cradling your abdomen. Breathe all the way down into the bottom of your abdomen and breathe it all out. Whatever type of movement you choose to do during this time of the month, make sure you are connecting with your body and not pushing. 
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I am sharing these tools in hopes that it will provide some sort of support or help for other women. I know that I felt like this was just going to be my life and I couldn't do anything about it. It took me asking questions, trial and error and my yogic upbringing to find the things that worked. That being said, our bodies are always changing and always evolving so tomorrow I could wake up and none of these things work. Learning to tune into my body and truly listen has been the most powerful tool. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me directly or leave a comment below. 

GHEE: The Good Fat

HISTORY

Ghee comes from a sanskrit word meaning "clarified butter." It had been used in Indian culture for over 5000 years. It is made by simmering butter at a low temperature until the milk fat has separated. The impurities are skimmed off the top and the golden liquid is strained through cheese cloth and the residue on the bottom is discarded. Because the milk solids are removed, it can be left at room temperature and won't go rancid. 

Ghee may be the single most important ingredient in Indian cooking. It is a staple in their household and the beginning of all Indian dishes. Ghee is held with high regard as it is made with butter from cow milk. Cows are a sacred animal in India. The mother cow is revered as the physical manifestation of the Goddess as she nurtures and mothers all of us with her nectar. Because the milk solids have been removed, it withstands high heat without becoming caustic or burning. It it also used as a base in Ayurvedic remedies as many of the Ayurvedic adaptogens are fat soluble. This means that their effect and your ability to absorb their benefits in greatly increased when fat is the carrier. 

WHY GHEE?

Ghee is a wonderful source of fat for many reasons. As I mentioned before it is great for high heat cooking, but it is also super nourishing for the body. Some of the benefits of ghee includes, but are not limited to:

  • Free of lactose and casein (all my lactose intolerance friends and family, you can have ghee!)

  • High in fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E and K

  • High in Butyrate, a short chain fatty acid beneficial to gut health. It causes the growth and repair of new tissues in the digestive tract. Butyric acid also balanced and strengthens gut flora and can help to combat candida.

  • Because it is high in medium chain fatty acids, ghee helps support a healthy metabolism and supports weight loss

  • Digestive Health

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Brain Health: Saturated fat is essential for proper brain health and ghee is one of the highest quality saturated fats available.

  • In Ayurveda there is a term called “Ojas” or life force. Ghee is revered for being high in Ojas and giving vitality and life to the mind, body and spirit.

Any recipe that calls for oil or butter, ghee can replace. I use it to roast veggies, sauté, fry, bake. I drink 1 T of ghee in my latte every morning. It nourishes my body and “gets things going.”

WHY MAKE YOUR OWN

I've been eating ghee for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my mom used it to make Kitcheree  (I will share my recipe soon, but in the meantime check out THIS one), spread on toast, add to popcorn and melted over steamed veggies. It wasn't something you found regularly on the grocery store shelves, so we made it ourselves. In the last 5 years, ghee has become more and more popular in the United States. There are a lot of wonderful ghee products out there, but I personally feel that many of them are overpriced for what you get. I find it to be quite important that my ghee is organic. Ghee made from conventional butter may have GMOs, pesticides and toxins. If you can find organic and grass-fed butter, that is even better. If you have to choose between organic and grass-fed, I would go with the organic. 

HOW TO

There are several ways to make ghee at home. I am going to share my favorite. It is easier then you can imagine, costs under $5 and once you start you will be wondering why you haven't been doing it all along. All you need is a pound of organic, unsalted butter.

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Step 1

Start with 1 lb of organic, unsalted butter. I usually get mine at Trader Joe’s as it is affordable.

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Step 2

Place butter in a saucepan and put on your stove over medium heat. Once the butter is completely melted, lower the heat to medium-low

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Step 3

As the butter simmers, the fat solids will rise to the top (some will also fall to the bottom). The process of separation takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes. You will know when it is done when you use a spoon to scoop some of the solids off the tops and the liquid underneath is a clear golden color.

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Step 4

This is what the milk solids will look like when the ghee is done. Remove from heat. To make the straining easier, you may choose to spoon the milk solids off the top and discard.

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Step 5

Place a piece of cheesecloth that has been folded over several times over a glass jar and slowly pour the ghee into the jar. Keep an eye to make sure that no milk solids are falling through (if so, you just need to do a second strain.)

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Step 6

You now have your very own, homemade ghee. If you want the ghee to be super creamy (like fourth and heart), put it in the freezer overnight and take it out in the morning. If you want a more traditional ghee texture, leave it on your counter. Store at room temperature.

IF YOU DON'T WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN

90% of the time I make my own ghee, but there are those weeks when I just don't have time or I wanted to get some fun flavors to add to my dishes. When those times arise, I reach for Ahara Rasa Ghee or Fourth and Heart . Ahara Rasa is a local Portland company that is both organic and grass fed. I love them as they have fun flavors like garlic & lemon, chai spice and vanilla. Fourth and Heart, though not organic has a delicious creamy texture (you get that by putting your ghee in the freezer while it is still hot) and is made from New Zealand dairy (they have different standards then the US).

Whether you choose to make your own ghee or buy it form the store, it is a great fat to add to your diet.