Loving life with nature, beauty and yoga's wisdom.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Kitchen Garden's 1st Harvest

August 1st marks the beginning of the harvest season in the Northern Hemisphere. Earth lovers observe this day and call it Lammas. The word Lammas is a combination of the words loaf and mass, celebrating wheat's first harvest and the baking of bread. The ancient Irish Celts called this day Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-na-sa). Lugh is the Celtic sun god who is honored during the harvest season's advent for his strength in ripening fruits, vegetables and all of life.

Being a city girl my farming consists of planting seeds in other's thoughts and along my kitchen window sill where my herb garden grows. This past May I picked up a few small pots of culinary herbs at my super market, Trader Joe's. I kept it simple and stuck to buying herbs that I frequently use in summer dishes such as mint, basil and parsley. I even included an aloe plant for whenever I need to break a branch off and use the gel as a topical ointment for healing summer's burns, bites, cuts  and scrapes.

Since May my herbs and aloe plant outgrew their original containers. As a result I decided to restyle my kitchen garden by re potting my plants in matching clay pots. To fill up the empty spaces in between the pots I added antique green glass vases which creates a stain glass window image as the day's light illuminates them. I adorned the vases with sunflowers because I've always associated August with them and finally Eastern deities, Happy Buddha, Shiva and Ganesha were hand picked and scattered about by my toddler. Once I swept the last of the potting soil off the floor I realized we made our first harvest altar.

This Wednesday the 1st, which is also a full moon, celebrate the year's first harvest by relaxing and reflecting on all that has grown in and out of your life in the year so far. Acknowledge friendships that you have grown and open yourself up to abundance, knowing it flows freely around you, and all of us.

You may just notice how the first stirrings of fall's theme of gratitude are awakening within your consciousness.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tribal Nautical

Necklace, handmade in Ecuador, Earrings www.lailarowe.com shades www.forever21.com

A couple of years ago we lived in New York City's ultra hip Greenwich Village. Nearly each time I walked home I passed by Ralph Lauren's Rugby store. Never did I not notice the exquisite attention to detail in this funky but somehow classic division of Ralph Lauren's fashion empire.

Many touches on how I combine my outfits today comes from what I learned by admiring Ralph's windows for several years. One of my favorite Ralph Lauren summer inspirations is combining a nautical piece with some tribal touches. Not the ordinary pairing but for me it makes my heart soar. Mostly because my Mom comes from a little city, Cuenca which nestled in the Andes Mountains in Ecuador. Here is where my beaded necklace was made. During many vacations to her homeland I've collected several pieces of what I call art made by native Ecuadorians.

My bag resting in the foreground is gifted from India, where my husband's family comes from and this is also hand made by native Indians. I love pieces that are made by artisan natives that come from countries which are so far away and older than my own. What I've come to realize is that not only are they unique items and filled with a little bit of spirit from their origin but these works of art last.

My dress on the other hand is actually a skirt from the Heritage line at www.forever21.com that I bought last summer. I opted to wear it as a dress because the day these pictures were taken it must have been a 100 degrees outside and I wanted something loose and light on. After I taught class in the morning I slipped off my camisole and pulled the skirt up and over my chest. This was a trick I learned during my pregnancy days to not only make room for baby but to also feel the breeze under my dress.

Shoes Nine West outlet store

As for my postures, July is all about back bending and keeping my heart open to all the great seeds that are ripening before me. I'm noticing that it is easy for doubt to pop into my consciousness when what I've wanted five years ago or so presents itself and it is my turn to receive it. When I physically practice back bends I find it to be the antidote to lack of trust and fear as my nervous and tight shoulders soften away from my ears, my ego softens a bit and more truth emerges from my voice. All of this along with open arms is who I want to be

Because summer's fun times and unstructured schedules can get me a little out of balance from doing some necessary things in my daily routine like buying milk and returning phone calls, I've thrown a little balancing work into my practice. I usually practice plenty of balancing postures in the spring but now I'm finding they have a place during mid summer to tune me up.

I can't believe how these geese stayed with me as I practiced. If you look closely a few of them followed my dance.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stay Cool & Centered with Ayurveda

Summer's light filled days inspires free flowing schedules that propel us to connect with others, transform and grow. However when the heat is on like the heat waves we've experienced lately here in the North East, the heat within us increases. Our skin as well as our mood gets irritated, our exercise routine pauses and our appetite decreases during the day making us extremely hungry later in the evening which isn't the healthiest time to fuel up.

Ayurveda (eye-your-vay-duhh) yoga's sister science, is a natural medicinal practice from southern India says everything that exists in the universe is made up of nature's elements- space, air, fire, water and earth. Different combinations of these elements create the clouds, rocks, flowers, dogs and us. Some people have more space and air within them. They are called vatas. Vatas are light on their feet, super creative and feel chilly most of the time. Their energy is dominant during late autumn through mid winter. Kapha's are late winter and early spring people. They have plenty of earth and water running through them which makes them congested most of the time, able to go with the flow better than most and they are the friends you can always rely on. Thirdly there's the late spring and summer pitta person. Pitta's have plenty of fire and a little water in them. They run hot, thirsty and are super fast people who have a fiery temper. They are not very emotional when it comes to another's needs but are great strategists. If you're wondering if it is possible to be a combination of two constitutions, the answer is yes.

Once you understand what elements or combination of elements you're made of, then you can use nature's elements to stay balanced and healthy. Since the basic principle of Ayurveda is like increases like, a pitta person during summer's high temps would feel their best if they perfectly follow Ayurveda's how to stay cool tips while a vata type who runs very cold or a kapha who is a little chilly would follow these tips loosely.

Here are a few Ayurveda inspired summer lifestyle tips that are good for everyone when the heat is on super high. Pitta, fire people pay close attention:

Food: Avoid excess salty and spicy foods, soy, onions, garlic, red peppers, red meat, alcohol and fermented foods. Although tomatoes are in season pittas should avoid them on the hottest of summer days. All of these foods burn the inner body so save them for a cooler season. Instead opt for sweet tasting foods which are carbs like rice, pasta, potatoes, bread and dry cereal. Having a bowl of dry cereal with milk for breakfast is perfectly cooling. Also sweet fruits and veggies are in season, so enjoy them. Eat fresh berries, peaches, melons, mangoes, corn, zucchini and squash.

Skin: Summer promotes a whole bunch of skin issues. Sun burn, heat bumps, rashes, scrapes and acne. Buy an aloe vera plant, they're easy to keep in the summer and whenever your skin needs a little cooling break open a branch and use the gel straight from the plant. Also drink aloe vera juice and cool your skin from the inside out.

Eyes: Summer's light makes us squint and strains our eyes. The result can be dry itchy eyes. During the day wear shades outdoors and in the evening soak two cotton balls in milk and place them over closed eyes for about 5 minutes.

Heartburn: Heartburn attacks worse in the summer. When you combine salsa, chips, hamburgers, ketchup, a pickle and alcohol with the summer's hot sun, be ready to burp and feel the burn in your chest. Drinking milk will instantly ease heartburn. At your next barbecue eat plenty of fruit salad, veggies, pasta and potato salad. Hydrate with minted teas and if you must drink alcohol stick to white wine.

Exercise: Taking a dip in water and swimming is ideal. Also a bike ride or walk preferably under leafy shady trails in the morning or sunset are great. Avoid exercising outdoors under the noon time sun. Hot bodied pittas should pass on participating in competitive sports and hot yoga. Yoga in a ventilated room year round is good for everyone.

Smell: Smells get worse in the heat. Body odor, garbage sitting on the side of the curb and the New Yorker in me must share the smell of urine on the streets is intensified under the hot blazing sun. Carrying a small bottle of summer perfect essential oils such as peppermint, jasmine, rose and sandalwood are instantly satisfying and cooling when applied to your wrists, forehead and back of neck.

Stress: The heat easily makes us angry. When things don't go our way our shoulders creep up into our ears and we're fast to honk our horns. To cool our inner boil practice yoga breath exercises. They will instantly ground and calm your energy.

Using our nostrils and noticing our breath is the fastest way to connect our mind and body. This is why aromatherapy works. Unfortunately learning pranayama/breath work needs to be done in person so... perhaps I'll see you in yoga class this summer where I'll be sure to also teach you summer's most balancing postures. If you can't make it to my class visit a qualified teacher and you'll have the tools...stretching your breath, mind and body... to keep you cool and centered.

Dress vintage L' Acostage from Really Great Things NYC, earring & necklace set Annie- Sez, shades Forever 21

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bright & Bold Low Lunging

For over two weeks the air has been thick and super hot here in New York City. As a result my yoga practice and the classes I lead have been closer to the ground. My Sun Salutations have been less sunny as I've been replacing most jumping with stepping forward and back on my mat. Also placing my knees on the floor during caturanga helps to cool the fire of this strong pose down as I flow plus visiting child's pose more often than usual balances my energy nicely. While keeping my standing poses to a minimum I've been spending more time in the past week exploring the countless variations you can find in a low lunge.

Bangles, gifted from India, nail polish www.karmaorganicspa.com make up www.onehundredpercentpure.com

Bright skinny tights & threaded earrings are trends that are not fading from www.lailarowe.com sandals, tunic, tank & shades circa 2011 www.forever21.com

When it is hot and muggy I normally wear seashore cooling colors such as blue, green, light beige and white. However my interactions these days have been vibrant and fierce resulting in me choosing solar powered colors to keep my energy level up. Also my inspiration for wearing red, orange and yellow comes from seeing natural beauties like these flowers that have been whispering as I pass by "Come hither, look at me and be like me."

During the hottest of summer days be sure to hydrate and detox at the same time by drinking plenty of lemon water. Favor eating sweet foods which are carbs such as pasta, bread, rice and juicy summer fruits such as watermelons, peaches and berries. Ayurveda, yoga's sister science originates from a very hot and muggy southern India says eating sweet tasting food cools our inner heat and grounds the irritable moments that come with hot and humid weather. Finally my suggestion while practicing yoga in the heat is to spend most of your practice closer to the earth and you'll notice as you rest in the in between spaces how there's a sweet hum pulsing at a pace that is well worth following.