Happy Belated Ram Navami 4.19.2013

I’m playing catch up on posts. Ram Navami was on April 19th. I planned originally to post a “Happy Ram Navami” blessings post that day, however at that time things were a bit out of hand around here. You see that was the same week the Boston Marathon bombings [a few miles from us] happened. The city shut down, the non government office I work in closed the business, and we had to work from home. My family and I are safe, unlike many of those who were at the marathon and injured or lost their lives. My heart goes out to those affected by such a tragic event.

Once stress and safety were no longer a concern, and the random April 19th National Grid power outages stopped, there were still a few niggling things on my plate. I’ve been caught up in some post vacation normal adult life responsibilities [read work, domestic goddess chores, playing tech support guru for family, and uploading vacation photos]. Anyway I am back from such a partially long unplanned posting vacation and….

I wanted to wish you all a belated Ram Navami, Jai Shree Ram. May Lord Ram shower his blessings on you on Ram Navami and always. Happy Belated Ram Navami.

happy-ram-navami
Image Source

http://mazematlo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/1364706781_happy-ram-navami-2013-free-1080p-desktop-hd-wallpapers-1024×768.jpg

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Is there really such a thing as too much pumpkin?

It’s Thanksgiving and for the first time, perhaps ever, I found myself with a first world problem this month…Too many cans of pumpkin puree! What to do?

Pumpkin Puree

I know some might say, really can one have to many cans of pumpkin? They somehow multipled in my cupboard, I don’t recall purchasing quite so many. Fall is an especially important time in a pumpkins life. They get the opportunity to shine in countless dishes savory or sweet. Some are even decorated or carved for Halloween. In order to use up said cans of pumpkin puree and fulfill my desires [read obsession] for my quest to consume pumpkiny goodness, I made quite a few pumpkin dishes or drinks this month. Its pretty remarkable how many things you can make by adding one of the autumn seasons key players.

The pumpkin in all his glory

The ones I made that I liked best were:

  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Pumpkin Butterscotch Scones
  • Pumpkin Muffins
  • Pumpkin Crumble
  • Pumpkin Coffee
  • Dark Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread
  • Pumpkin Wheat Farina Breakfast Cereal
  • Pumpkin Curry Soup
  • Pumpkin Cookies

Fresh from the oven: pumpkin muffins with Chocolate & Butterscotch Chips

I think my husband will be happy when fall is over, as I’m pretty much sure he is tired of pumpkin everything. I think I’ve just about had my fill of pumpkins, hard to believe isn’t it?  I know those words will most surely make him happy.  I have 1/2 a can left that will most likely be consumed in the form of pumpkin coffee or pumpkin wheat farina, and then the pumpkin will be done for the year in my house. There’s still more items to try / be had, however I think they may just have to wait until next year for a fair assessment. This will prevent becoming burnt out on pumpkin, which I can have a tendency to do.

Trader Joe’s fearless flyer

Some store-bought pumpkin themed items that have proven to be tasty great purchases:

  • Pumpkin Ice Cream
  • Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt
  • Pumpkin Rooibos Tea
  • Pumpkin Cream Cheese
  • Pumpkin Cheese Cake
  • Pumpkin Butter
  • Pumpkin Ravioli
  • Pumpkin Truffles
  • Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin
  • Pumpkin Beer
  • Pumpkin Seeds [both pepita and cooked]
  • Pumpkin Pancakes or Waffles
  • Pumpkin Oatmeal

Fearless Flyer

So So Purchases:

  • Pumpkin Granola
  • Pumpkin Smoothie

I’ve tried most pumpkin items out there, which I am sure does not surprise you if you’ve read this far. Perhaps this post will inspire you to do some holiday baking, or even stop by a cafe to try a new scrumptious treat. You don’t have to feel as guilty consuming said treat if you keep in mind that pumpkin has numerous health benefits. Pumpkins have some of the essential things we need in our diets

More Health Benefits Of Our Friend The Pumpkin:

  • Keeps our eyesight sharp
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Pumpkin Seeds are good for the heart
  • Linked to reducing cancer
  • Protect the skin
  • Boost your mood
  • Help after a hard workout
  • Boost your immune system

What’s your favorite pumpkin themed food?
Sources:
http://nakedtruthnutritionist.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/oragnic-pumpkin.jpg
http://sheality.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/trader-joes.png
http://api.ning.com/files/3qHlAnbvmIxn9OQzQsVTW1*uL9YVBX9mgbqxqhf0FSGMZhIYq4-rRwJmu3tvf0549TzmHzBn0KJzSPGMhQ8b8*4eMaRy05Lj/homecenterLtimagepumpkin.png
http://cdn2.content.compendiumblog.com/uploads/user/60e1f3de-9022-4822-b04f-6e65a57f5d12/b173eee3-a702-490a-8971-f0479199b78f/Image/ac6c9f3d70cd99cf17e00e0bc56ef9b0/pumpkins_3_test.jpg

September is National Yoga Month

Its labor day weekend, the start of a new month [September], and last night was the full “Blue” moon. It’s time for change in many of our lives, the kids everywhere are going back to school, and soon with the earth as well in the form of starting a new season. The fall equinox is on the 22nd.

August 2012 Full “Blue” Moon

In the world of yoga it’s National Yoga Month, a month dedicated to inspiring you to lead a healthy life style and to educate you about the health benefits of yoga, in which there are many. The department of health and human services came up with the idea. Since I live for yoga it was something for me to look forward to. Studios in many cities offer up a free week of classes for everyone. Taking things a step further in the digital age, one of my favorite teachers Esther Ekhart, [who just recently launched a new site] is offering three Yoga classes each week for free. This is not only a great opportunity if you don’t have a studio near you or you prefer to practice in your home, but also is a “green” way to take advantage of National Yoga Month. She and the other teachers we have come to know and love from her youtube site , will post the classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This program will help you become healthier, happier, fitter and stronger. “Try and repeat the classes once, so you practice 6 days a week”.

This week’s theme is Standing poses, and I took advantage of the first class this morning to kick off my weekend on the right foot.

Standing Poses Class 1

The other weeks themes are as follows: Week 2: Twists. Week 3: Hips and Hamstrings, and Week 4: Heart opening postures. “The last class of the month will be your 90 minute Time for Yoga class. Enjoy the connection of practicing yoga as a global group during Time For Yoga on September 30th at 7PM. your local time.”

Yogaverse

I can see fall starting to creep in already and I am not ready to let go of summer.  As much as I love the colors, scents, and tastes of fall, I know what comes next and that’s a brutal winter. Before we know it the leaves will be crunching under our shoes. It’s depressing so I try to find things to get excited over so life won’t be as gloomy. I mean really if your winter lasted 6 months out of the year and then you had cool weather for 2 more and only received 2-3 months of warm weather, I think it would affect you too. I look forward to the day I can escape from here, even though there is not currently an end in sight.

I am looking forward to the annual Pumpkin festival in October, and for Ganesh Chaturthi on September 19th.

Fall is Creeping in

Today is one of those days I am feeling grateful for a good nights rest, sunshine, a day off, a cuppa tea, and a morning of yoga.

Yoga – Freestyle Friday

Being a self-professed yoga nerd, [and trying to keep my depression at bay] I do yoga everyday.  On a good number of days I do a specific practice based upon what I want out of the practice that day. Some days it might be that I want to open my heart more, or maybe I am feeling a bit haggard after a long day at the office [technical work and moving technical equipment is exhausting] and need a relaxing and restorative practice. The latter being my Thursday evening. On Friday morning it was a bit hard to get out of my nice comfy bed.  All this New England rain and overcast weather really affects my mood, how I long for my SoCal weather!

Once I got up and started moving around, I made my daily morning cuppa green tea. I like to make it before I start my practice so that it can cool on the counter a bit while I perform the asanas. I just hate burning my tongue/mouth on hot foods and drinks! I unfurled my lovely Gaiam ombre yoga mat, the one that reminds me of the aurora borealis [the northern lights]. I was feeling indecisive as to what type of practice I wanted to do especially since I didn’t have a lot of time prior to the trek into the office. I recalled watching the yoga mat unwind a moment ago and thought how free was, like the birds chirping outside my living room window. I decided then an there that I wanted to feel free, so I did what I call Freestyle Friday.

I threw on some relaxing music for and I padded over to my yoga mat. I just did whatever pleased my body, whatever poses my body naturally started doing or whatever happened to pop into my mind. I had a great practice, I felt free, content, and let my botherations and stress melt away with each breath.

Sunset in Sedona

Recyclable Toothbrushes

I know many of us yogis care about our earth. One of the popular efforts we utilize to care for Mother Earth is recycling.

On a recent grocery trip to a local favorite, Trader Joes, I remembered I wanted to pick up a toothbrush. I went down the household items aisle and discovered that their “Preserve” line of toothbrushes are not only made from recycled products, but are easily recyclable.

The toothbrushes are made from recycled yogurt cups. When it’s time to swap your toothbrush out for a new one, all you have to do to recycle that old toothbrush is drop it back in the free USPS mailer that your tooth-brush originally came with.

If you happen to lose the mailer, and are replacing with the same Trader Joes brand “Preserve”, you can use the envelope that your new replacement toothbrush came in.

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Tea Quotes, Sedona, life in the Yogaverse

Your life is based on the capacity of energy in you, not outside of you.

Sedona, AZ, USA

 

Life in my Yogaverse, or why this Quote is Important to me:

I recently had the pleasure of taking a trip to one of my favorite places, Sedona, Arizona. Before I arrived I planned to wake up early and start my normal routine of daily yoga practice.

Sunrise in Sedona, AZ

I can’t emphasize enough, how much I had really been looking forward to starting my practice off with the sunrise, as I had my last visit. performing the asana’s in what to me is a magical place, is something I treasure. Performing the sun salutations [Surya Namaskar] with the sunrise and that fresh prana, really brings new meaning and clarity to those poses that warm my muscles up for the rest of the flow.

Due to the daily grind of a mentally exhausting job back home, I found it a bit difficult to get going with my normal routine, instead of relaxing and enjoying the peacefulness that Sedona promises and delivers. I found my self struggling with allowing my self to sit back and enjoy the respite, instead of performing my practice which in turn helps keep my depression at bay and keeps me off my meds. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy yoga, all that it encompasses, and how it makes me feel. The fact that it can keep me off anti-depressants is a major testaments to my mental health, however I sometimes dislike that I “have” to do it just as much as I “want” to do it. Sometimes I just want to be a normal person who can just get up and go, not someone who has to do something. If I just want to get up and go, I have to do this practice everyday like clock work, else those niggling feelings of depression start sinking in and its further down the spiral I go.

Since I had been feeling content, and was enjoying the respite from work, I decided I would take advantage of the spiritual cleanse from visiting vortex’s. I felt confident, brave, and daring. Like the saying “fortune favors the brave”, I took a chance. I slept in! I caught up on sleep for a change. If I woke up early, I read and disappeared into the depths of an alternate world we call books. I drank copious amounts of water as if it was going out of style, to stay hydrated in the high desert temps [100-112F/37c-44c]. After a while I waffled between reading my novel, and yoga news.

An article caught my eye. Now while the point of the article was discussing early morning yoga classes, vs doing what one feels best for their body. I thought okay let’s see where this goes. In my case the words of a yoga guru stood out in my mind. “The point of yoga,  is  more unlimited joy for you.” Yoga should make us happy it should be the thing, or one of the many things, we can look forward to most in our day. It should be something that can provide us  a break from our worries and woes, not something causing them. So then why was I feeling so torn. The article said, “why should yoga, of all things, drag us out of bed and make one miserable”? Well yoga certainly does not make me miserable, however I so wanted to just relax, and just be. I didn’t want to feel torn, and doing a practice because I had to vs because I want to vs should I allow my body to catch up on sleep and relaxation or do this other thing [yoga] that is always so beneficial for me.

Prior to reading the article, doing yoga later in the day as the temperatures rose was not as desirable, early morning it would be [70 F-80 F] so it was obviously a bit cooler and more tolerable for practicing. There wasn’t room in my hotel room for a practice, so I had to make a decision quick. To do yoga, or not to do yoga, that was the question. I decided to stick with my guns and my original decision, and relax, sleep if I felt tired, and read if it was too late for yoga. Glancing at the time and the rising temperatures, it was too late for practice today, and that’s how it happened the rest of the week. I did not scold myself, or allow myself to beat myself up over it. I saw that quote and allowed myself to feel the positive energy from within, to feel content and happy with my decision. I did not focus on the fact that there was a potential for spiraling down the rabbit hole later, I focused on the positives of my trip. I took advantage of the beautiful weather. I took a hike one day, and meditated later that evening, there was certainly room enough for that.

Sedona will always hold a magical place in my heart, one that I hope to visit again and again. If I could live there, I certainly would.

 

Yoga, Chia Seeds, and that Core Vinyasa Flow

Yogaverse

Since this blog is also record of my spiritual journey practicing yoga, and life in my yogaverse, I thought I would start this post off with how I am feeling, and boy am I feeling in a funk today! I don’t know what happened, maybe I “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” as they say, or perhaps my working life is causing me not to get enough sleep, or perhaps my hormones are out of whack, but I just couldn’t shake it. Whatever the case may be as the day progressed on I found myself more and more irritated with the people around me at work. I wanted to escape to seek tranquility, peace and solitude elsewhere. Regrettably that was not in today’s cards.

Everyone that I try to avoid in the office for a myriad of reasons was seeking me out today. They were in full force! Not to mention they were really trying my patience. I dug deep and tried hard not to let my emotions get the best of me but try as I might I think they could tell something was up by the questions of “oh are you okay” that came my way. As much as I wanted to say the naughty [read not nice] thoughts from my mind I refrained and just said “oh I’m tired”. Well that didn’t get them to leave me alone either! My word people, then they started asking me more questions and making recommendations of things to try when all I wanted was to just get my cuppa tea from the kitchen and be on my less than merry way. I was easily annoyed today.  I have to remind myself that I have plenty to be grateful for and these people keep me in a job.

I must admit I was surprised I was feeling so moody today, especially after a 40 min core strength vinyasa flow this morning, and a 30 min vinyasa flow yesterday morning. I can only guess that perhaps as can sometimes happen with yoga, that sometimes our deep emotions are brought to the surface and we have to let go, to release them. Tonight [or what’s left of it] I am trying to center and ground myself. I’m trying to clear my head and find peace within the chaos. I am looking forward to an upcoming trip to one of my favorite spiritual places, Sedona [Arizona] next month. I’m looking forward to warm weather and waking up with the sun for a sunrise yoga practice.

Chia Seeds

I decided to jump on the chia seeds band wagon and give them a try. I’m eagerly awaiting their arrival to my door this week but anticipate that they will help me feel full and add to the vitality of feeling healthy. I suspect they are similar to the seeds found in falooda [a basil seed].They are supposed to help balance blood sugar levels, add omega 3 to the diet, sustainable energy all day long, cut out food cravings [my sweet tooth has been rampant lately] . They are a good source of fiber.

Core Vinyasa Flow

The flow series I did today was quite a work out, but definitely in a good way. In case you are interested in trying I am posting the video below.

Sources:

http://www.turmerichealthbenefits.net/2011/10/chia-seeds-benefits-and-side-effects/

Yoga, Music and My Spiritual Healing Journey

First stop today is a catch up of life in my Yogaverse, then onward to a post about music. It’s sunny outside, a nice reprieve from the constant rain we have had lately here in New England. There’s a smile on my face. I feel when we are with out the sun that I have to push myself that much more, and really work extra hard to not feel low, lose my concentration, or my motivation. It’s hard sometimes, okay most times, but today I feel like I made it through to the other side and I can smile.

I know the rain is what keeps everything looking so lush and green outside but I would be remiss if I did not admit that its hard to mentally deal with so much rain. As I sit here typing away on my keyboard, having a cuppa Tulsi [sacred holy basil plant] tea I brought back from India, and listening to some Kirtan music, I felt inspired to change my original topic to music.

Tulsi Plant (in the decorative planter)

One thing you will find a lot of at these combined music and yoga festivals [i.e. Bhakti fest, Shakti fest, Tadasana Festival etc…] is Kirtan/Bhajans or general upbeat music.  The music carries you, uplifts you, and brings a smile to your face. Your heart will open and you will feel as if you are receiving so much love from the universe.  Kirtan, Bhajan, no matter what you call it, is a style of music known as the call and response chanting using devotional traditions stemmed  from India. If your not familiar with this style of music, another benefit is that it can also bring you closer to the gods if you believe in them. They are a vehicle to show devotion to the gods, however please bear in mind that you need not be religious, spiritual, or following a certain faith to enjoy and take advantage of the healing powers from the music.

Bhajans reverberate through your entire body and [at least for me] leave you feeling fulfilled, content, calm and “healed” from mental sadness or other botherations. The music is fun and invokes that feeling where you want to drop what your doing and sing along. I have always enjoyed music, singing and dancing. I  can now add that I consider chanting to be a part of my spiritual path.

There are quite a few podcasts out there and other ways to experience the music if its something your not familiar with. For the sake of making your life easier I will include some resources here.

Resources:

spotify you can download the free client and type in keywords such as “kirtan” or “bhajan” and listen to some selections. Like most free accounts these days you will be subjected to commercials.

New World Kirtan Podcast calming chants for a crazy world.

I first learned of bhajans from the “Art of Living“. One day while I was at an advanced course during Guru Poornima, I heard two that stood out in my mind they are Govinda Radhe Radhe Shyam and Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambo. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

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