Cleansing During the Transition for a Healthy Energetic Spring

I love watching the transition from Winter into Spring. Out of the darkness of winter, the light finally returns. While the transition can sometimes seem slow, other times we go from cold & rainy to hot & sunny within a matter of hours. We are even expecting another snow tomorrow! We continue to travel through the Kapha season of Water and Earth. You see the perfect example of Water and Earth in the mud that defines this season characterized by wet, cold & dense.

As we learned in our last seasonal retreat, we have to counterbalance the cold, damp, heaviness of winter with movement, warmth and drying. My husband and I have had a great deal of success this winter, following a diet called, Whole30. This diet is defined primarily by removing the common allergens and congesting foods in our diet, namely, dairy, grains, sugar and legumes. This has had a profound effect on our bodies and our health.  I believe it is the main reason why we have escaped the influenza virus that has plagued almost everyone we know this Winter.

Nature has it’s own cleansing process each year. After the heavy dark winter, spring offers us a way to naturally cleanse with the ubiquitous green shoots of spring’s vibrant edible greens. Herbs like chickweed, dandelion and violets provide us with nutrients, fiber and support for our livers and gallbladders, the organs of this time of year, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Chickweed helps us to absorb nutrients, like minerals and also helps dissolve and break down things like cysts, mucus and excess fat cells. Chickweed, itself, is rich in nutrients like calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and vitamins A & C, and B factors such as folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine.

Dandelion and other bitter greens assist digestion. Ingesting the leaves increases hydrochloric acid in the stomach, sends messages to the liver to prepare for digestion, increases the appetite and prepares the liver to break down fats. Dandelion is also high in vitamin C, potassium, calcium, Iron, B vitamins, and protein. Dandelion increases circulation and fluid waste elimination in the body, without depleting the body of important nutrients. 

Violets are alterative, which means they help the body restore optimal functioning by aiding metabolic processes, especially the elimination of waste products. Violet stimulates the lymphatic glands, helping the body get rid of bacteria and other toxins. It is especially useful for swollen glands. Taking Violet after a long winter is a wonderful way to get our bodies ready for a healthy and energetic spring. 

Celebrate the new season and add some of these fresh greens to a spring salad. Simply add a bit of olive oil and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice as a dressing. Keep it simple as you savor the bitter, pungent, and salty flavor inherent in spring’s bounty.

For more information on how the change in seasons effects us and some recommendations for how to respond, as well as a luxurious restorative yoga class to support you during this time of year, consider attending one of our next seasonal retreats.

Do You Know Your Life’s Purpose?

As we prepare for our upcoming seasonal retreat, we are contemplating the Water element. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys are the yin organs associated with Water and with our Essence, Our True Nature. One of the many ways an imbalance in Water shows up in an individual is with a lack of purpose, a sense of malaise, a lack of motivation. One wonders, especially during winter and early spring, what is my purpose in life?

Thankfully, there are several practices we can draw on to support and build our kidney energy and therefore restore balance to our Water element. One way is to incorporate nourishing herbal infusions as a daily tonic. A favorite Kidney tonic is Nettles (Urtica dioica) also known as Stinging Nettles. Nettles are ubiquitous in gardens and waysides from Maine to Florida and New York to California. Maybe an indicator of how many people benefit from this tonic herb?

Another Kidney tonic, an adaptogen, which enhances the body’s natural response to stress, is Tulsi (Oscimum sanctum) or Holy Basil which is a sacred plant in India and is planted near temples on the Indian subcontinent. Tulsi is a powerful antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory herb. And the smell of the plant and it’s essential oils is divine. Try making a delicious herbal infusion with Holy Basil.

Whole Foods, like whole herbs, are recommended to help balance the Kidneys. Specifically, black-colored foods and foods with the salty taste are beneficial to the Kidneys. These foods include seaweeds and other sea foods that have been marinated in the bounty of natural sea salts for millennia. Legumes, like Kidney beans, and other black foods, such as black sesame seeds, black beans and black walnuts are tonifying to the Kidneys.

Restorative Practices, like Yoga, Meditation, Tai Chi, and Deep Rest, especially during the hours of 3-7am and 3-7pm are recommended to restore our Kidney energy. Learn to practice restorative yoga, specifically tailored for this time of year and more practices to balance your energy during winter and early spring by attending our upcoming retreat.

In the meantime, try incorporating some of these practices now. And ask yourself, “What is your life’s purpose?” Can you articulate it? Or write it down? Continue to practice these three recommendations for the next week. Ask yourself again “What is Your life’s purpose?” Try again in one month. One Year. “What is your life’s purpose?” Has your answer has changed? Has your answer become more clear? “What IS Your Life’s Purpose?”

Out With the Old and In With the New

How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? The New Year is usually the time most of us decide to make changes to our diet, lifestyle, and goals for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, the winter season does not necessarily afford us the luxury of following through on our new habits and plans. Wintertime encourages us to turn inward, retreat, and receive. Winter is a time to slow down and contract in the freezing cold temperatures. For many of us, it is heavy, slow and potentially stagnant and not the time to start something new, especially without seeing immediate results.

A better use of our time, may be in making use of the adage, “Out with the old and in with the new!” January and February are great months to utilize the cold dark days and nights to go through some of those piles of items that are taking up space and weighing you down. Late Winter and early spring is the Kapha (Water and Earth) time of year, according to the Traditional Healing Philosophy of India, Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga.

This is the time of year when we need to be attentive to things in our nature that are heavy, things we may cling or attach ourselves to. According to my teacher, Maya Tiwari, “Clear unobstructed space is essential to Kapha’s wellbeing. Their greatest sadhana (practice) is to detach from unnecessary hoarding… and to determine what is absolutely necessary.”

As a Virgo, I love clutter clearing, and I have been particularly inspired by Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book lays out a specific methodology for how to go through your things so that you will not obstruct your precious space ever again. And because Kapha wants to see immediate results and improvements, try Marie Kondo’s method which suggests going through your clothes first. But if even this seems too daunting, use your own method and start small. For example, if you would like to clean out your kitchen, start with one drawer. You will usually feel so great by the time you finish one drawer that you will keep going. Movement is a fantastic antidote to the heavy, contracted winter months and movement with an end goal is even better.

For more information on how the change in seasons effects us and some recommendations for how to respond, as well as a luxurious restorative yoga class to support you during this time of year, consider attending our next seasonal retreat: Yoga to Lift the Spirits, A Seasonal Restorative Yoga Retreat on Sunday, February 25th, 1pm – 4pm.

Food Is Medicine

Food is a very simple way to ground yourself for your big day and one that many brides neglect. Eat! After a moment to pause and be present (and hopefully stay present all day), be sure to have plenty of your favorite snacks available. Hopefully, you have decided on all of your favorite foods to eat at your reception! However, since most weddings start in the afternoon or evening, make sure to make a plan to eat. Ideally, you eat a substantial breakfast between 7am – 9am.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is the stomach meridian peak energy time, so this is the time when the stomach functions at it’s optimum level. We have all been told that “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” There is ancient wisdom to back this up.

 

Food, like Yoga, is inherently grounding because it brings you into your body. Some foods are more grounding than others, however. Foods that are particularly grounding are nuts & seeds, which include nut butters & seed butters. Indulge in nut butters and seeds in smoothies. If you have some time, Herbalist Brigitte Mars, has a great recipe in her book, Rawsome, for Vegan Energy Balls. These are great truffles made with nuts, dates, cacao, vanilla, coconut oil and salt. You can snack on these delicious treasures throughout the day and they will not spike your blood sugar and cause you to come crashing down.

 

Root vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes,  and autumn squash are also very grounding. A cast-iron skillet filled with roasted root vegetables, olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices would be fantastic, especially in the cooler months.

 

If you are not vegetarian, boiled eggs are an easy grounding food to eat for breakfast or throughout the day for a good source of fat and protein to sustain you until you say, “I do”. Give your body the nourishment it needs so you can dance the night away and have the energy you need to celebrate fully one of the most joyful days of your lives.