It’s time for GRATITUDE, beloved.

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I’m so grateful for the ways you show up and shine with me.  All the times you read my messages, all the times you spend on the mat with me or listen to my yoga-genda, all the times you say yes to my workshops/programs (or think about it), all your IG and FB postings and likes, all the times you share my content or bring a friend to class.  Thank you!

Your light and love inspires me

When my gratitude cup is so full that one more gesture of kindness will overflow my heart, that is when I must share the love.  Go ahead, share the love: call your beloved aunt or cousin, reach out to your high-school friend, take your favorite office mate to lunch, cancel a holiday party and spent more time with your pet (or your children, I guess)…it’s all worth it.  The spirit of Mother Abundance is radiating upon you, and before the news cycle brings you down from your gratitude high and the holidays’ madness pushes your heart into survival mode, donate to your favorite organization (or pick a favorite organization to give money to, it’s time, love).  Here are some I support and want you to consider,

EVERY TOWN FOR GUN SAFETY - Every day, more than 90 Americans are killed with guns. Your generous donation helps EveryTown work to prevent gun violence and save lives
ABHYAYA YOGA FOUNDATION - Abhaya Yoga Foundation empowers and educates the underserved groups of children and women who may not normally have access to the powerful teachings of Yoga.
AMERICAN RED CROSS - From small house fires to multi-state natural disasters, the American Red Cross goes wherever they’re needed, so people can have clean water, safe shelter and hot meals when they need them most.

I can keep going, but I’m going to leave it at three, you know, to leave room for abundance.  Share your favorite organization to support with friend with me.  We'll spread the voice.  

Let us treasure what needs to be treasured, let us give thanks and shine...no matter what.
 
Light and peace,
 
E

Posted on November 29, 2018 and filed under inspiration, Living spaces.

5 Easy Steps to Detox this Fall

As tree’s leaves change color and the temperatures drop, we find ourselves wanting to eat warm foods, to go to bed earlier, and to be more reflective.  Listening to these small inclinations can inspire and set us up for success in the upcoming “party” season and winter months.

Take advantage of autumn’s momentum and cleanse with the season by incorporating little changes in your daily habits to create wellness-evolving results.  Whether you want to go all out and participate in a CLEANSE or simply drink more water, here are five easy and effective Ayurveda-inspired tips to cleanse during this fall season:

1. HYDRATED TO DETOX
Fall is wind/dry season (vata dosha for the Ayurveda nerds out there), drinking water is an essential part of a healthy diet and is especially important when the body is detoxing.  Drinking warm/hot water helps flush toxins out of your body (i.e., pooping), and keeps everything from our skin to our cells hydrated and functioning properly.

2. EAT CLEAN
I define clean eating as choosing food as close as possible to its natural state (i.e., not processed foods).  Removing foods such as refined sugar, alcohols, and processed grains AND adding wholesome, healthy foods such as leafy greens, healthy fats, and good-quality proteins will get your body in detox mode immediately.   Yes, clean eating is about detoxing your body without feeling hungry!

3. GET YOUR BODY MOVING
Move your body for at least 20 minutes a day- consistently!  Regular exercise not only increases the natural detox process but it also strengthens the immune system and increases mental clarity and mood. Remember that sweating is one of the main ways for your body to detox.  Choosing the right type of exercise is important, which is why we recommend moving in a way that leaves you feeling energized and refreshed.

4. REMOVE TOXINS IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Let’s face it, many commercial household items such as cleaning and skincare products contain synthetic (or natural) chemicals that can undermine your health. EWG’s Skin Deep Guide is a great place to start determining which products may be toxic.  Removing toxins that surround us can be just as important to our health and well-being as what we eat!

5. DO A GROUP CLEANSE
Want to feel guided and supported as you combine all of these detox tips? Do you want to take your cleanse to a whole new level and learn natural ways to detoxifying your body? My Mini-Cleanse is a wonderful way to learn the basics of Ayurveda (life science), to incorporate healthy eating and hygienic habits in your life, which will cleanse your body AND create healthy routines that last.  LEARN MORE


Posted on September 13, 2018 .

Connect with your Nature ( or why a plant-based diet)

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Would you guess what is the most frequently asked question I get as a Yoga Health Coach?  Yep, you guessed it: WHAT SHOULD I BE EATING? Every time one has to ask that, one should be translating it as I AM DISCONNECTED FROM MY NATURE.  

Everything we consume becomes us.  All food has a sustaining force, a force that animates and activates, a life force that we yogis call Prana.  The moment we aren’t consciously connecting with the state of our Prana, we’re moving away from ease and towards dis-ease. If you want to connect with your life force and experience good health, energy, trim physique, a livable planet, compassion and deliciousness - a PLANT-BASED DIET is an excellent path for you.

While vegan and vegetarian diets are defined by what they exclude, a plant-based diet is defined by what it includes:  lots of plant foods.  What this means is that you tap into the abundance of PRANA-rich veggies, beans, peas, fruits, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds AND you eat less animal products and processed foods.  

My Yoga practice ushered me to become a vegetarian and my Ayurveda studies got me to go beyond being a consumer of vegetables and be more of a collaborator of my Prana intake.  The only way to really experience this connection with your nature is by experimenting and feeling how the Prana that you consume affects you, how it becomes you.

Maybe you need more motivation to try a plant-based diet,  here are my five reasons to eat a Plant-Based Diet.

1. It’s good for your health.

Unless you are living under a rock, research and statistics confirm what yogis have known for thousands of years: eating plants make you feel good!  But in case you need some formal convincing:

  • Dr. Dean Ornish’s research showed that eating a very low-fat, plant-based, vegetarian diet and other lifestyle changes could, in fact, reverse heart disease. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn also succeeded in reversing heart disease in patients who were seriously ill.

  • The Adventist Health Study-2 found that vegetarians had a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. While about 50 percent of Americans will develop high blood pressure by the age of 60, research shows that populations that consume a diet comprised mostly of vegetables or who are vegetarian have “virtually no increase in hypertension with age.”

  • Eating red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) is associated with increased rates of cancer and heart disease. And the American Cancer Society recommends eating a healthy diet for the prevention of cancer “with an emphasis on plant foods.”

2. You will feel and look trim.

Let face it. If you are eating a lot of plant foods, which have less calories and move with more ease through your diggestive track, you are going to lose weight. If you eat plant-based foods instead of fast, fatty, processed, and sweet foods, you will cut out a ton of calories — and the best part is, you will feel satisfied and less inflamated.  

3. You are helping the environment.

According to an article by Elizabeth Weise for USA Today, it takes about 15 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef and about 5 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of chicken. You can see how we would use less water and other resources if we ate the grain ourselves.

An article in Scientific American reveals that the amount of beef the average American eats in a year creates as much greenhouse gas as driving a car from NYC to Denver!

4. You will become rich!

OK, maybe not immediatly, but you will imediatly save lots of money.  Many people think eating a Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is the cheapest way to eat. But actually eating plant-based foods can cost even less.

For example you could have lentil soup, salad, fruit, and sparkling mineral water for four people for about $10!

Beans, peas, and lentils are some of the cheapest foods you can buy.  Even buying organic fruits and veggies at premium health food stores is more economical than one may think.  Do the math.

5. You’re moving away from animal cruelty.

I know it can be devastating to think about the cruelty and unfairness that goes into acquiring all the goods we purchase at the grocery (or fashion) store. I think it is important for all of us to understand how animals are treated so that we can make a conscious choice.  If nothing else, a Plant-Based Diet is all about raising one’s consciousness.

No guilt. No shame. Here is one example as a case study: gestation crates for pigs. Once the sows are artificially inseminated, they are put in crates with just enough room for their bodies for their entire pregnancy. As the sows get larger and larger, they often develop pressure sores. They urinate and defecate through slots in the bottom of the crate.  Once the sow delivers, it is back in the gestation crate. When the animals are spent, they are taken to slaughter. They use these horrific practices to save money and produce more meat. But at what cost? Pigs are intelligent animals, and who wants to be part of this kind of suffering to save a few dollars?

I am not a vegan and I do occasionally eat animal products, but when I do eat them I go out of my way when possible to buy products from animals that have been humanely raised. Yes, I pay more for them. However, for the very small amount of animal products I do eat, it is worth it and does not break the bank.

It’s hard to argue with a plant-based diet when it benefits your health, waistline, environment, wallet, and conscience. Any movement toward more plants and less meat is a big step in the right direction. Why not skip the meat and eat some veggies today?

Posted on July 19, 2018 and filed under Yoga, wellness, cooking.

Why is my waist feeling scrunched? Tight Fascia could be the culprit

“When the body begins to work appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.” -  Ida P. Rolf, founder of the Rolfing technique and recognized as the first to understand the role of fascia in human health.

Do you ever feel scrunched and thick around the waistline?  There is more than fat to blame here.  The waistline gets a bad reputation: lower back pain, extra weight, bloating and thickness. Why?  Not an easy answer, like anything worth investigating. There is a plethora of factors that trouble your midsection such as poor diet, stress, hormonal imbalances, emotional eating, lack of adequate rest, and not moving our bodies enough. Additionally, the sides of the body tend to be ignored: we spend a lot of time sitting, slouching, driving, and working on computers (or texting). Essentially, we’re just accumulating tension and stress in that mindsection. 

Furthermore, our relationship with gravity, bad posture, poor weight management and upper body weight-distribution can cause the space between the ribs and the hips (your waistline) to get squished and compressed, which in turn leads to a shortening and thickening of the waist.  When our waistlines shorten, all the muscles, tissues, organs, skin, and fat start to bulge out to the sides making us look and feel thicker than we really are. To make matters worse, experts tells us that  this can also negatively influence digestion, metabolism, circulation, oxygenation, and organ and gland efficiency, leading to bloating, density, and inflammation.

These sounds like a complicated problem, and it is, but there is a magic solution that can shrink your waist and make it healthy: you need to create length and space to your fascia and core. Fascia is critical because it actually helps to create the shape of our bodies. Basically, fascia is like a very thin wet suit just under the skin that wraps around each individual muscle and keeps everything in place (including our organs).

Injuries, stress, bad posture, emotional behavioral patterns, and poor habits can cause fascia to get tight and thick (a.k.a. Trigger Points).  These causes restrict movement, mess with your alignment and trap toxins in the fascia, which leads to thicker tissue accumulation throughout the body—such as those that often form around the waist.

The good news is that fascia is malleable and can be repaired—which is the purpose of Roll+Restore: releasing all those unhealthy toxins from the fascia and helping to reduce thickness/inflammation in the body.  Schedule a private consultation or join my next workshop to experience additional techniques to lengthen and mold that fascia!

 

Posted on May 16, 2018 and filed under Ballwork, wellness.

You are what you do. #habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Hmm? So what is Aristotle talking about? Let’s go there, habits are the small actions you take and the decision you make every day.  Research by Duke University scientists suggests that habits account for about 40% of what we do on any given day.  I think the other 60% is driven by the MTA.  But seriously, your Dharma and/or your current life is essentially the sum of your habits.  In other words, your health or your malady is a result of your habits; your joy or fear is a result of your habits; your alignment with your Dharma or sense of failure is a result of your habits.

40%.

What you are repeatedly thinking about and doing each day creates the persona that you display to the world, your beliefs and who you are.  Everything I teach starts with better habits: my yoga teachings through abhyasa (repeated practice over a long period of time to obtain spiritual connectivity), my organization coaching through performing repetitive tasks to obtain productivity and my yoga health coaching through daily aligned routines.  All habits.  When you learn why you are doing what you are doing, you can learn to transform your habits and you can transform your life.

Best Habits Reads

  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – After seeing it on every subway rider under the age of 30, I gave in.  Totally worth it!!!
  • Any Article by James Clear – my habit go to guru – he does all the research and his science base approach is nerdy galore.

To explore more and playfully engage into your personal prophesy, you can come or call in to the next DHARMA SESSIONSa free workshop about clarity and practicality!   You’ll explore technologies like Yoga, Ayurveda, Professional Organization, A Course in Miracles and Yoga Health Coaching to design the lifestyle that will help you thrive in your career, creative endeavors and relationships.  
 

Posted on April 27, 2018 and filed under wellness, Yoga, Organization.

Spark Up Your Life (or is it time for a cleanse?)

No matter how much we work on staying at my optimal health, living in a big city and career obligations catch up with my body and mind.  That is what brought me to my first cleanse many years ago. I was feeling overwhelmed, overweight and overextended. As a yogi I can’t praise enough the practice of regular cleansing in the year to observe, pamper and thank my body.  

After studying and trying many ways to cleanse, this is what I know as a Yoga Health Coach, a good cleanse has to address both internal and external toxins. It has to deal with the toxins we eat, drink, breath and put on our bodies AND also with the internal toxicity created by the body as it performs its normal everyday functions.

I believe that cleansing isn’t about starving yourself or skipping meals.  Ayurveda offers a straightforward approach to detoxing and to me the most efficient and with long lasting results because Ayurveda encourages your body to do it’s thing.   

So how do you know if it’s time for you to try a cleanse?

YOU’RE FEELING SPENT, TIRED AND WANT MORE ENERGY

If you’re feeling lethargic and drained and don’t have the energy to live your daily life with vibrancy, your diet could be the culprit. A cleanse clears your system of any foods that are squashing your energy (the biggest culprits are usually sugar, dairy and caffeine) and gives your digestive system a reset.

YOU’RE CARRYING EXTRA WEIGHT, FEELING BLOATED OR PUFFY

If you want to lose weight in a way that nourishes your body and gets you on the right track for changing your habits for the long term, a cleanse can be a great place to start. By cutting out the foods that triggers weight gain and learning to find healthy replacements, you’ll be setting yourself up for sustainable weight loss.

YOU WANT TO CLEAN UP A SLUGGISH DIGESTION

If you often feel constipated, bloated, gassy, or have stomach aches and indigestion, it may be time to clean up your gut with a cleanse. A healthy digestion is one of the cornerstones of Ayurveda and an indication that you’re living optimally a cleanse can ignite your digestive fire.

YOU WANT CLEARER, GLOWING SKIN

Your skin is a mirror of the internal state of your body. If you’re having breakouts or other skin issues, it can be a sign that something on the inside isn’t right. Skin issues are often a result of inflammation in the body, so removing anti-inflammatory foods on a cleanse can result in your skin clearing up and having a healthy glow.

YOU’RE FEELING ADDICTED TO CERTAIN FOODS

We all know the feeling of being attached to foods – needing that coffee, glass of wine, cheese or chocolate. If you’re relying on certain things like caffeine and sugar to get through the day, a cleanse can help you reset, and begin to crave things that truly nourish you.

YOU WANT TO KICK-START A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE AND NEW HABITS FOR THE LONG TERM

Sometimes, being disciplined for a short period of time can help you find the middle way. If you want to create a lifestyle that is healthy, but you don’t even know where to start, a cleanse might be a great option. You’ll learn new healthy ideas, and reset your days to be more health-supportive.

WHEN SHOULD YOU NOT DO A CLEANSE?

If you’re feeling weak and run down, or your body is underweight, cleansing may not be the best choice for you.

Posted on March 27, 2018 and filed under cleaning, Ayurveda.

No More Turtle Head (or how to decompress your neck and upper back)

Next time at a pack of teenagers on their phones, you’ll notice their necks slumping forward. Ouch. Then go to a mirror and look at your own posture, double OUCH.  Regardless of our age or gender, living in the 21st-century means that we’re asked to multitask: phone calls, emails, meetings, working out, driving, being a partner, being a parent, cooking, meditate, detox, binge watch and many more demands. We’re often leaning our heads forward as we peer at our phone or the computer screens, which can be the cause of muscle strains, tension stiffness, compressed neck, disk herniation, spinal compression or a pinched nerve.  AND aesthetically speaking having one’s neck sticking out like a turtle’s head makes one look and feel slumpy and dumpy.    

Some of our current habits are compressing our upper back and shortening our neck.

Roll + Restore

Learn more

  • Sitting for long periods of time: According to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, not only has inactivity like sitting at a desk for long periods of the day been linked with diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, it can also increase the risk of certain cancers. Our human body evolved to move, stretch and breath, not to sit all day long.  Sitting for long periods slows down all our systems and decreases energy.   Not only do we sit at our desk (or at home watching TV) but we are hunched over our viewing devices, which causes the connective tissue to become “glued” into a slumped posture that actually damages and compresses your entire body.   Are constantly achy around your shoulders and neck?  This could very well be the cause.
  • Phone usage: The average human head weighs about 10 pounds when held upright, but for every inch that your head is tilted forward, extra weight is added to your neck and spine. So guess what we are doing most of the time while trying to read our phones’ screen; we’re titling our head forward!  Additionally, if you make phone calls (Yes, a few of us still do), holding the phone in the crook of the neck, wedged against the shoulder can cause structural imbalances, tightening your fascia and shortening the neck, which can turn into all kind of  pain.  

As I said, our bodies aren’t designed to stay slumped and suffer the aches and pains of this forward posture, these are simple strategies that can help you battle the turtle-head epidemic:

  • If you must sit for long periods of time, first and foremost sit up and avoid slump at all cost! Then every 20 minutes or so (set an alarm) Take deep-breath and roll your shoulders up and down and twist your neck from side. Then every hour (set an alarm) get up and move around. Go outside, and get some fresh air! This will encourage you to realign your body and posture.
  • When using your phones and computers, choose the zoomed display on your phone to make the font bigger, try to avoid writing long messages from your phone, or lean back in your chair and hold the phone up to eye level so that you don’t pitch forward.  Avoid holding your phone to make phone calls, instead Try using a headset, speakerphone, or a hands-free set.
  • Correct the damage done, a very effective way to do this is to stretch and massage the tight muscles along the back of your neck and well as strengthening the muscles at the front of the neck.  Correcting the turtle head starts with strengthening the core and upper back muscles Yoga and Bodymind Ballwork do wonders here!!!
Posted on January 29, 2018 and filed under Ballwork, Yoga, wellness.

5 Easeful Ways to Prevent Back Pain

Experts estimate that 8 out 10 people will experience back pain over their lifetime.  Can you see my hand raising?   It was, in fact, a chronic lower back pain that brought me to the Bodymind Ballwork™, chiropractics,  Rolfing, acupuncture, Pilates, meditation, etc., etc.,etc.   Quack, you can say that my experience with embodiment self-awareness was sculpted by my back pain.

Addressing low back discomfort or pain is tricky since there may be multiple reasons that can influence it.  The back is a truly complicated, it's made up of ligaments, muscles, fascia, joints, bones, emotions, and energy.   Back problems can be caused by injuries or accidents, by simple movements like bending over to pick something up or twisting too abruptly, and also by bad posture, obesity, stress, and arthritis.   All of these can be influenced by stress, sitting too much, not sleeping well, not moving enough, wearing the "wrong" shoes, or any trauma from your biography (just pick any one).

Awareness is a big step in managing any experience.

Before you try anything to ease your back pain, specially for chronic and/or intense discomfort, I recommend consulting with a physician.   It's better to get the frustrating "there is nothing wrong with your back" diagnosis than to try a modality that isn't right for a serious condition.  Empower yourself with knowledge before you try anything here.    

5 Easeful Ways to Prevent Back Pain and Sciatica

  1. Stretch and move your spine every morning for at least 20 minutes. I recommend  yoga, of course, to activate and decompress your spine, move your spinal fluid, and hydrate your connective tissue.  Any other form of mindful movement would do it, in the Yoga Health Coaching world we call it "Breath Body Practices."    As a bonus, doing this in the morning help release feel-good endorphins, flush toxins, move blocked or negative energy, and keep your body and tissues supple and youthful.

  2. Stay hydrated, water works great -smile - and/or take a collagen supplement powder to keep your tissue, fascia, and inner webbing supple and resilient.  And if we're gonna talk supplements, take magnesium, the miracle mineral, to restore your tissues, reduce stress, sleep deeper, and nourish and repair your nerves.  I love Natural Calm.

  3. Work on both strength and flexibility: Build and maintain a strong and flexible core and hip rotator muscles—especially your gluteus medius.  Also check in with, or get to know, your pelvis.  Incorporate any activity to build healthy tone in your pelvic muscles and deep core muscles.  This area has a huge impact on the alignment of the hips and pain in the lower back.  Lastly, pamper your feet. Roll your feet out with a ball to maintain healthy plantar fascia—this has a huge impact on the health and mobility of your spine.  Shameless plug: The ballwork exercises from Roll+Restore classes are design to teach you this. 

  4. Use your glutes and hamstrings more! When bending down to pick something up, bend your knees and squat down using your booty muscles, hamstrings, and core, and press through your heels. Avoid bending at the hips since this loads the discs of your spine.  BTW this is true in your yoga classes too, ask your teacher if you aren't clear on how to properly do a forward bend.

  5. Go upside down every day: Inversions are great for decompressing the discs of your spine and helping nourish and redistribute your spinal fluids.  Start with building your down dog and work your way up from there - do this with the right help from a capable instructor.

Posted on October 20, 2017 .

Sally, there is never a good time for your wellness evolution!

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Many times we know we want to spring into action and yet we’re stopped by our own inability to act.  Take for example my student and friend, let’s call her "Sally."  Just the other day, Sally was telling me how she knows she needs to make some changes in her life to evolve into the better woman she knows she can be for herself and for others.

I love you, Sally.  

Sally tells me that she even knows what strategies to put in place to become who she wants to be:  She’s gonna do a detox to give her body the space it needs, she's gonna start her days with yoga because she knows yoga works!, she's gonna start talking more with her live-in boyfriend to smooth out all of their communication kinks, and she's gonna revamp her career (or if necessary look for a new job).  Sally got plans and goals, that much is clear.  But then she tells me she's waiting for her life to settle.  You see, Sally has a lot going on, she got some family situation which may affect her traveling schedule in the near future, she has a new boss at work and you know how that goes, she is experiencing a stomach thing that she hasn’t figured out quite yet, and the boyfriend communication thing, you know, makes things at home a bit tense right now.  

Oh, Sally, my heart is heavy for you, because that's a lot, I've been there and I hear you, you're waiting for the right time.  The time when the yogic detox will go smoothly, because who want to do a half-ass detox? You’re waiting for genuine motivation to do your yoga first thing in the morning, because one needs to show up authentically to the mat, right? You’re waiting for the right words to say to the boyfriend, because presentation is everything when it comes to we-have-to-talk moments, isn’t that what your therapist says?  You’re waiting to get clear on what you want from a career because your Dharma deserves an auspicious space, because isn’t that how Dharma works?

Well, this is what I told Sally. There’s never a good time for your wellness evolution.  “Shift” is always hitting the fan, specially when you’re ready to implement your perfect evolutionary plans.  You either sit in peace while the “shift” drips down your walls, making your life feel like a total hot mess or you begin to thoroughly, imperfectly execute your perfect strategy.  


This is what I know to be true, the Universe will meet you right where you’re at, so where do you want the Universe to meet you at?  

If like Sally, you know you need a yogic cleanse to get you started, please join the community Reboot + Reset I'm leading at Abhaya Yoga- DUMBO, get a full description of the reboot and register HERE.   Let your potential emerge this Fall, if you have been waiting for the right cleanse for you, this is it. 

Posted on September 8, 2017 and filed under inspiration, Organization, wellness.

Grieving Gracefully (or letting your body flow with your heartbreak

 click on image to listen to this post

click on image to listen to this post

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose.  All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” — Helen Keller

Sometimes my brain can be quite literal like when I first heard my yoga teacher say “flow with grace,” I immediately slowed down on my mat and carefully considered how to place my arms and legs gracefully - you know, like a dancer.   Years later when I realized she was talking about Grace, you know, like the liberating energy from God, I felt a little dumb, but also grateful I’d taken it so literal before.  Every pose I slowed down to elegantly flow, I was being Grace-full.  I’ve learned that my body understands, feels and assimilates spiritual passages way before my brain does.  

Grace, as I’ve experienced it, is a river that flows towards the ocean of Divine Love. Its waters aren’t transparent and insipid, they contain life’s colors and flavors.  One of which is grief.

If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one through death or a breakup, you know grief. If you’ve experience the loss of a career opportunity, you know grief. Heck, if you’ve experienced Trader Joe’s discontinuing your favorite product, you know grief.  Because, you see, if you’re human you’ve experienced and will continue to experience grief.

A thing I know about the river of Grace, and grief, is that it’s unstoppable. Sure you can intellectualize the situation: “he’s in a better place now,” “it wasn’t meant to be,” or “a better opportunity will come along.” However, grief is part of Grace and you need to let your whole be in it because your body will feel it, understand it and assimilate it before your mind can.

When you’re grieving, you’re gonna have to let the flow take your whole through the process.  

Sometime you get to step into the river slowly, like when a beloved is terminally ill.  You get a chance to adjust to the temperatures of the water and to prepare for the inevitable. Does it hurt? Yes.  Will your mind resist it by creating false hopes? Absolutely.  But eventually the river’s current will carry you.  

Sometimes you get thrown into the river, like suddenly losing a job or worse the sudden death of a beloved.  You get no chance to adjust. The moment you hit the water, it feels like you’re gonna drown. It’s messy. Will your mind resist it just the same? Yep. Will you fear that your body can’t handle it? For sure. But eventually you’ll adjust to the waters, you’ll begin to float and the river’s current will carry you.

This is what I know for sure, mental suffering is directly proportional to the resistance to the flow of Grace.

The only way to mitigate grief’s pain is to step into its current with the least amount of resistance. Sure you can learn techniques to cope with it, but don’t try to snap out of it. Do take care of your spirit, your mind and your body to the best of your abilities, but don’t attempt to cheer yourself up. Do hold on to your life-enhancing daily habits like floaties. But if you need to be in pain, be in pain. If you want to be moody, angry or sad, just be.  Honor the feelings flowing through your body knowing with full confidence that they will lead to the ocean of Divine Love.  

For my fellow caregivers, if you are around someone who is going through the process of grieving, as much as you want to stop their pain, don’t try to get them off the river. You can’t. You won’t.  Be a witness, and if you must throw a lifesaver,  offer your company, a hug, a prayer, a kind ear or warm meal, but let them grieve at their own rate. Know that this is you too flowing with Grace.

Caterpillar Soup or how a messy transition could be the path to a better you

Through yoga, we’re not transforming into something we aspire to, we’re transforming into the very thing that we are innately: our best Self.
— Rod Stryker

Did you know that when a caterpillar begins her transformation into a butterfly, she doesn’t just grow antennas and wings?  No, no, the caterpillar actually fully dissolves in some sort of cocoon-soup and it’s from this DNA-broth that the caterpillar’s cells will re-arrange into a butterfly.  

There is a clear message here, my friend, when things dissolve into a hot mess and it's hard to tell how things will re-arrange themselves, it's because a new, brighter, beginning is around the corner.

How many times have your life look like a hot butterfly soup?

I've had a few of those moments when everything around me had to liquefy to begin the metamorphosis of my better self.   One of those moments was when I moved to New York City.  I had to leave behind my very comfortable "young professional" lifestyle in the ever gorgeous Savannah, GA and listened to my soul call  towards a "soul-full hustler" lifestyle in NYC.  That was a rough lesson in what leisure is and  what disposable income means.  Through the few years of adjustment, when my mind was in agony and doubt, my surroundings and my heart opened in ways that I couldn't have imagined. How did I manage? Yoga helped, meditation helped, new friendships helped,  self-help books helped, it all helped!  

By the time my self-made lifestyle wings had emerged, I was a new man.  A more confident, kinder and more resourceful man emerged from that cocoon.

That's the thing with transformation, if we aren't practicing awareness, we'll miss the gorgeous colors of our new wings.  

I've learned to to recognize the signs and results of self evolution, to look with loving eyes those moments when things fall apart, and  to remember that when things fall apart is because they need a new foundation.  I’ve learned to LOVE these butterfly moments and, almost enjoy the effort it takes to unfold my new wings after each transformation. Yes, I'm saying almost because it feels like hell every time.

[ On a side note for those searching souls that want to quit it all and start anew:  Was my drastic lifestyle change useful in my Spiritual Evolution?  YES!  Was it necessary?  NO. There are less dramatic and less painful ways to grow new wings. If your caterpillar is feeling antsy, reach out for help.]  

*this content was inspired by a newsletter I sent in September 2015...a good example of how change is part of everything

Posted on May 30, 2017 and filed under inspiration, Spirituality, Ayurveda, Yoga, wellness, design.

Spring Clean Your Concept of Time or how to dismiss your time scarcity problems

Listen to this post instead - it's quick and more fun...

I don’t have five seconds to spare!

Is this what it’s come down to? I have to ask myself as I read a study suggesting that we, internet dwellers, tend to abandon downloading a file if it’s taking more than five seconds.  Five seconds! Quack, I remember having to walk 15 minutes to my aunt C’s home to consult her Encyclopedia Britannica just to finish my homework.  OK this makes me old, but it also tells me that if these days I don’t have five seconds to spare, there is something wrong with the way I’m living my life.

Why do we feel rushed? Why are we so busy? We got services and technologies to help us expedite almost anything from laundry to cooking.  Our technology is so advanced that we can almost instantly share documents, videos and pictures with anyone around the world.

So here is a truth, it isn’t about having less time, but how we perceive and use time.  

This quote from Albert Einstein illustrates the issue “an hour sitting with a pretty girl on a park bench passes like a minute, but a minute sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour.”

Perception is everything.

We’ve been taught that time is money, a fair equation considering that most of us get paid by the hour.  However in doing so we’ve also brought all our money issues and make them time issues.  How we use it, waste it, save it these are the thoughts that pollute our enjoyment of time.

Life is long if we know how to use it.  

If we’re constantly thinking about the scarcity of time, well, we’ll have a hard time finding time. So here is another truth, time isn’t money, it’s nothing more than the space between events.

This is my proposal for Spring cleaning, let’s invest time in those things that make us feel good.  Let’s dust off all those I-don’t-have-time excuses, we got time. Let’s pack away multitasking, we know that when we do one thing at a time, it gets done way faster and we have way more fun.  And let’s clean up our expectations of what we can get done in a day.

We’re going to look for abundance and we’re going to find her.  

As for the rest of the Spring Cleaning, we have a long life to get to it or as De Gracia wrote in 1965 “Lean back under a tree, put your arms behind your head,  smile and remember that the beginnings and ends of man’s every great enterprise are untidy.”

Kitchari your way into nourishment

Growing up in Panama, often enough my family will serve this soupy-mixture of beans and rice we call "guacho."  So when I was introduced via Ayurveda (Science of Longevity) to Kitchari, its texture was a homecoming to my senses and a blessing to my digestive system.  There are tons of Kitchari version available out there for Kitchari, but I've arrived at a version that works for me not only because it's easy to prepared but it has the consistency and flavors that I like.

Kitchari is basic to the Ayurvedic way of life, it's a balancing dish dating back thousands of years. Like many comfort foods, Kitchari is basically a one-pot dish, you make a big batch and eat several times.  The skillful use of spices and vegetables can produce balancing effects for your body and therein your mind and spirit.  Again, there many variations as there are reasons for each of them, I'm sharing my version.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup white Quinoa (you can substitute for basmati rice)
1 cup mung dal (split yellow) or red lentils (split)- peeled/split is important to save time.
6 cups (approx.) water
1/2 to 1 inch ginger root, chopped or grated (do not use ginger powder)
 Salt (1/4 tsp. or so, you can always add more later) 
2 tsp. ghee (you can substitute with coconut oil or olive oil)
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder

Because this makes a large pot from where I make several meals,  I don't mix vegetables in but as an option I add cooked vegetable later before eating the Kitchari, so that I can vary the flavors accordingly.   
 

Directions:

1- Wash quinoa and mung split beans (or red split lentils) and then soak overnight (at least 8 hours). Drain soak water and rinse thoroughly right before using.  Do not skip this step, it is supper important to prevent gas.

2- In a medium/largish non-stick saucepan warm the ghee. Add the ginger and sauté for one to two minutes. Add the rest of the spices mixing well till the whole kitchen smells gloriously.  Add quinoa and mung beans and sauté for another minute. Then add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.

3- Once the kitchari has come to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until it is tender (approx. 30 minutes).    Remember this is the cooking time for peeled/split mung beans (or red lentils), if you are cooking whole beans do your research!

(Add more water if needed. Typically, kitchari is the consistency of a vegetable stew as opposed to a broth. A thinner consistency is preferable if your digestion is weak. You will notice that kitchari will thicken when it cools and you may need more water than you originally thought.)

You can garnish with fresh cilantro and add salt to taste (optional) if needed.  You can prepare your favorite vegetables and either mix in or top your kitchari with them before serving your meal.

Makes about 4 servings

Posted on March 10, 2017 and filed under Ayurveda, cooking, wellness.

Sip Your Way Into Digestive Comfort with CCF Tea

“CCF” stands for cumin, coriander, and fennel; three spices commonly used in ayurvedic remedies and cooking for their medicinal benefits. They combine in CCF tea as a perfectly balanced threesome that’s appropriate for all body types (which we call tridoshic in ayurveda; good for vata, pitta, or kapha).

Despite its simplicity, CCF tea is well-revered in ayurveda.  In Ayurveda your digestive fire defines how well is your body is operating and this tea is known to troubleshoot any issue with that fire.  Each of the three spices in CCF tea re-balance the digestive fire whether it’s too high, too low, or, well, in a funk.  These are the qualities of the three spices:

Cumin: When it comes to digestion, cumin is a wonder spice. It digests toxins, helps to absorb nutrients, and increases the digestive fire and metabolism.

Coriander: Coriander cools any kind of excess heat in the body including burning sensations and anger. It also cools and strengthens the urinary tract and cleanses the body’s subtle channels.

Fennel: This licorice-like seed is one of the best spices for re-balancing the digestive fire and metabolism. It’s great for relieving acidity, bloating, abdominal pains, and gas. Fennel is calming but at the same time promotes mental alertness.

Anytime I feel a little off in my digestion, I prepared this tea and sip it through the day.  This how to prepare it.

  • In a jar mix equal amounts each of cumin, coriander, and fennel whole seeds. Do not try to substitute with the powder version- gross.  I just keep one jar with CCF seeds at home and one at the office. You can crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle to release their volatile oils or just toss them in whole.
  • Bring one cups of water to a boil and then add one tea spoon of the mixture.  Let it steep for at least 8 minutes.  (you can make a bigger batch,  pour it into a thermos, seeds and all and sip the tea throughout the day, straining as you go - this is how I was recommended to do it anyway, but I prefer one cup at a time)

Next time you need a quick natural way for digestion troubles, try this fire starter/fire quencher and let me know how it goes.  Enjoy!

 

Posted on February 24, 2017 and filed under Ayurveda, cooking, wellness.

A Veggie Keeper worth Keeping

So you've decided to start planning your meals and prepping your food ahead of time. Yay!  You're pump, you head to your local market and, of course, get tons of veggies, you're in it to win it!  

Then after a few days your enthusiasm gets beaten down by spoiled berries and  wilted spinach leaves.  Part of engineering the lifestyle that you deserve, is planning for those moments that may set you back.  In the scenario above, as part of prepping your food, doing a little research on how to keep vegetables fresh, specially the green leafy ones,  longer may be the key to keep you on track to a healthy eating path.

In terms of making  your fresh vegetables last longer and help your pocket, Progressive International's Prepworks Fresh Fruit & Veggie Keeper is hands down the best thing I've added to my prep routine in the last decade.  I attest that this container not only extend the life of produce, but because unlike the crowded produce drawer or opaque containers, these clear vessels display your produce in a way that makes it even more enticing! And yes, these are BPA-free.  It is especially useful for highly perishable produce, including dark leafy greens, lettuces, and fresh herbs, berries, and grapes. I’ve also used them for sprouts.  Did I mention that it also serves as a colander and it comes with a divider?  It is like kitchen sorcery, I tell you.  

No excuses go and get your greens!

 

 

Vegetable Wedges with Creamy Cashew "Mayo"

This is one my easiest go-to recipes when I want a nutritive, healthy and rich-tasting meal.  I don't think I have to tell you how much your body will love you for eating veggies and the sauce I am calling "mayo" is made with cashew nuts which list among its benefits obtaining a healthy heart, healthy hair, healthy nervous system and it even prevents cancer.  The most important part is that the mixture of  sweet flavors of  beets & carrots with the zesty of the "mayo" makes this dish incredibly satisfying.

These are the ingredients

  • 5 medium carrots, each cut into thick wedges

  • 2 large beets, cut into similar sized wedges with the tops discarded

  • 2 hands full of raw cashews (or 3 heaping tablespoons cashew butter if you don't have a food processor)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint (or 1 tablespoons dried)

  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper

This is what you do

  1. Steam the carrot and beet wedges in a steaming basket until tender (roughly 15-20 minutes depending on size and water temperature).  Keep an eye on the evaporating water.

  2. Drain and place in a bowl to cool.

  3. In a food processor begin to create the "mayo" sauce by adding the cashews with a little bit of olive oil and pulse your processor till you begin to cream the cashews.  Add more cashews and olive oil till you create a mayonnaise consistency.

  4. Then mix together these creamy mixture withe the water and red peeper and half the mint. Season with salt and black pepper.

  5. Pour over the carrot and beet wedges and add additional fresh mint to garnish, and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

Serves four (or two hungry yogis).  Enjoy

Posted on January 23, 2017 and filed under Ayurveda, cooking, cleaning, wellness.

Basic Broccoli & Arugula Soup

I see every dinner as an opportunity to give my body a break, a daily "detox" if you may.  After all, the human body is designed to eat it's biggest meal in the middle of the day so having a light dinner is a nice thing to do for the body's operating system (if you don't think that breaking this biological rule affects your body, you are either in denial or you are a mutant - I am cool with either scenario).

This basic broccoli soup is a bit more sassy by staring it with a sofrito and adding the always peppery arugula. 

This is what you need (for two servings)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced (or shallot if you can't do garlic like me)

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 2/3 Lb)

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon each coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup arugula 

1/2 lemon

This is what you do

1- Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat.

2- Add the garlic and onion and sauté for just a minute or two or till you smell and hear the happy sounds of the sofrito

3- Add the broccoli and cook for four minutes or until bright green.

4- Add the water, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover. Cook for eight minutes or until the broccoli is just tender.

5 Pour the soup into a blender and puree with the arugula until quite smooth.  Be very careful when blending, you don’t want the steam to blow the lid off and make sure you have the lid on!

I like serving soup with a little lemon juice.  Enjoy.

Freedom Scones (back with a vengeance)

** I originally published this recipe Six Years Ago!  I can't believe it has been that long.  I love the freedom scones then and I love them now.   With all the turmoil going around, I feel its a good time to bring them back to my holiday baking repertoire.

I called these decadent biscuit-like treasures, freedom scones, because all the ingredients break the prison of lethargy that other sweets tend to build around my day.  I find that a cup of hot herbal tea is the perfect companion to them (yes, I always have more than one, if you try them you will know why).

I adapted this recipe from Jenny Nelson' Clean Eat, but quite frankly the scones are so good, it makes me feel a bit dirty eating them, and preparing them is a fun mess, totally worth it.  These guys are vegetarian, vegan and delicious.

These are the ingredients that you need

3/4 cup coconut oil + 1 teaspoon for greasing the baking sheet...don't try to substitute this with other natural oil,  coconut is the one that make this work, also measured the oil in liquid form (~77 F)

1/4 cup water

1 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of dates, pitted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup gluten free all purpose flour +1 tablespoon gluten free flour (for dusting)

Pinch sea salt

2 oz organic dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (you could skip this, I guess, but WHY?)

1/2 cup raw, organic walnuts, coarsely chopped (I have used other nuts, but the bitter taste of walnuts make them my favorite)

This is what you do

Preheat oven to 350 F (you can place the jar with coconut oil near the oven and that helps melt the oil)

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mash the dates until you have a thick paste and set aside.  Add melted coconut oil to date paste with vanilla and water.  Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Dough should hold together. It may stay a bit runny, when this happens, I place the dough in the refrigerator for five minutes to make it easier to handle.

Form the dough into a round and place on a lightly floured (leftover dash of gluten free flour from above) surface and cut in half. Roll each half into another round. Cut one of the rounds in half and then cut each half into thirds and repeat with the second round so you have 12 wedges - it is OK if wedges are messy, it will taste just as good.
Lightly grease a baking or cookie sheet with the coconut oil and place the wedges in the oven for 14-16 minutes (rotating the pan after 8 minutes).    Let them cool as the chocolate will be too hot to enjoy - trust me on this one.

Namaste

Using Lifestyle Engineering to Buy Healthier Food

Most people think that building better choices, creating healthy habits or changing your actions is all about willpower or motivation. But from all my years of helping folks organize their spaces and their bodies, AND all my years of studying yoga, human mind and anatomy, I believe that the number one driver of behavior change (or at least the easiest to access) is our physical world.

Our environment has an incredible ability to shape our actions and choices. Nowhere is this more true than with food. What we eat on a daily basis is often a result of what we see.  If you are anything like me, you will buy or eat whatever is closer to you, whether it’s wholesome food or not.  So to eat healthy food a good reverse-engineering is to surround yourself or hang out with healthy food.

When I go to my local grocery store (which I must say it’s a gigantic emporium of Portuguese & South American food), I walk around the outer periphery of the market.  This is true to every supermarket around the world I have ever been, the outer periphery is where the healthy food usually lives: fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, lean meats.  Basically all items that are usually not processed and healthier for you.  So shopping on the outer periphery is what I am “choosing” to eat, because it is what I see.    

Architecture determines where things go, since electric outlets for massive refrigeration are usually on a wall and so are the building´s drains.  That means that the middle aisles are where all of the caned,  boxed and adulterated stuff is placed -they, more likely don´t need refrigeration.  If you don’t want to eat or you want to cut back in processed-food consumption, don’t go down those middle aisles and you won’t buy those foods. If you don’t buy those foods, they won’t end up around for you to eat. Try this the next time you go to the store and do your best to not make exceptions.  When I do this not only I spend way less money in my groceries, but I find myself cooking and eating healthier = feeling great in my body and mind.

Sure, there will be the occasional time that you’ll need to go down an aisle to pick up your oils, spices or honey but that will be rare and not often. It could be weeks before I go into those middle aisles ( but when I do I always pick more than what I intended to buy, which confirms that knowing of something isn’t as effective as doing something- smile )

Posted on November 23, 2016 and filed under cooking, buy, design, inspiration, wellness.

Get Siri to work! or Save Time in Setting Timers/Alarms

I don’t know about you, but once I open my iPhone to perform the simplest of tasks, I fall into a virtual world from where there is no escape.  A world where time stops and I can’t tell you how much time has elapsed from when I entered my passcode and when find myself looking at a picture of my favorite florist in Madrid on Instagram WHEN all I wanted to do was check on the weather. If you think that your phone or tablet is eating away your precious time, we are turning that around today.

Helping my client set up her “virtual home companion,” ALEXA; I was reading all the uses in the kitchen that such device could assist with (i.e., setting timers so you don’t burn your food)- which lead me to realize that my own iPhone has a “mobile assistant:” the legendary, Siri.  Well, Siri may have been resting on her laurels all these years, but no longer, no Ma’m.  I put her to work almost a year ago, and she is tireless and her help is invaluable to me these days.  One of the best uses I would like to share as a Lifestyle Engineer is how to use Siri to set alarms and timers which we know allow you to become more efficient and effective in your daily life. Siri ties right into the iOS Clock app on your iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad 4, iPad mini, and iPod touch 5 -and your desktop too, now that I think about it- which means if you want to go to bed at 10 pm or be woken up at 6 am, have a timer set for 10 minutes so the cookies don't burn, or find out what the hour is in Paris before you call, Siri can keep you alerted and on time. 

[If you don’t have an Apple product, you could use the same technology with your equivalent mobile assistant]

Here is the basic instructions:

How to set a timer with Siri

Whether you're waiting for your veggies to bake, meditating or your next set of circuit training to begin, Siri can make sure you always alerted at exactly the right time.

  1. Press and hold down the Home button to activate Siri.

  2. Tell Siri to set the timer, and for how long. For example: "Set a timer for 10 minutes".

  3. The Timer widget will remain visible on your screen until the timer goes off, or you leave Siri. Tap the timer widget to launch the Clock app and access the manual controls.

Note: Siri can only run one timer at a time. If you try to set another, Siri will ask you if you want to keep the current one or change to the new one. (Amazon’s ALEXA doesn’t have this issue, you hear that, Siri?)

How to set an alarm with Siri

Siri can set alarms quickly and easily.

  1. Press and hold down the Home button to activate Siri.

  2. Tell Siri to set an alarm, along with the time. For example: "Set an alarm for 8pm", "Set an alarm for 5 minutes from now", "wake me up at 9am".

Siri will display the alarm widget on the screen. If you change your mind about the alarm, you can simply toggle it to "off". You can also tap the widget to be taken to the Clock app.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, go forth and YouTube away the infinite ways you can be assisted by your "mobile assistant."  Get pampered by technology, I encourage you!