Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blissful Body Yoga Newsletter, September 2010

Check out our latest newsletter here. And you can subscribe with the little box to your right so you won't miss the next one! Peace- Teal

Help a Teacher with Limeades for Learning Grants

Sonic Limeades for Learning provides much needed grant money to public school teachers, like my sister-in-law Sarah Chimblo, who teaches at-risk students in Jenks, Oklahoma. Please help her projects receive funding by voting ONCE A DAY for one of her projects. That's all it takes, Sonic does the rest!

Also, if you are a fan of Sonic drinks like Cherry Limeades, you can purchase them and then get the code off the cup and enter it on the Web site below. The more codes enter the closer she gets to having her project fully funded! Last year both her grants were fully funded! I'm not ashamed to say we go dumpster diving a Sonic to get more cups sometimes...hey, you do whatcha gotta do to help the teachers!

Here's a little bit about each of the grants and the links to click and fund them! Please spread the word about Sarah's grants and to other teachers that may want to apply for one. Thank you!

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! First Grade Authors
Mrs. C
My first grade students have many stories to tell. Help instill in my students a love for writing by providing engaging materials for our writing center.

My students attend a moderate-level poverty suburban school. Almost half of the school is on free or reduced lunch. Some of my students come from different parts of the world and some families have lived here all their lives. All of my students, however, have stories to share about their families and life experiences. To read more and fund  

What's That Word? Let's Become Word Wizards!
Mrs. C
Did you know that students can learn vocabulary and background knowledge by reading and speaking? Help my students become "Word Wizards" through center activities!

My students come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Some students come to my classroom with many "real-world" experiences that helps their vocabulary development. However, some students lack background knowledge and/or vocabulary as they begin to read. Our school is a moderate poverty school, with almost half of our population on free or reduced lunch. 
To read more and fund

Give Peace a Chant

Om Mani Padme Hum

I don't watch the news, haven't for years. It is sensational, fear mongering hysterics. If I need a general idea of what is going on in the world sometimes I will watch a few minutes of BBC News (which is much more to the point) or I will scan online headlines to see if anything major has happened that I need to know about.

It's not that I don't care, on the contrary I care very much, it's just that I've found that getting all upset about anything doesn't really help much, and a great deal of what goes on on this planet can certainly make me upset. So what do I do? What helps me? I GIVE A CHANT OUT FOR PEACE!

Chanting mantra is extremely powerful. When we chant we harness the fundamental elements and powers of the Universe that are within and without. One of my favorite books on mantra is Healing Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Farrand. He recommends several mantras for planetary transformation.

Hung Vajra Peh (Hoong Vahj-Rah Pay)
This is the mantra of Vajrapani, a being who purifies and protects the "Sincere Seeker." Chanting this mantra is said to disperse the negative energies that coagulate like greasy lumps of oil in the ocean of Consciousness surrounding our planet. Every time some violent or terrible event occurs more of these energies, or thought forms, accumulate and clog everything up. When we chant Hung Vajra Peh we help to break those thought forms up and transform them into positive energy.

Om Mani Padme Hum (Om Mah-Nee Pahd-Mey Hoom)
This mantra is often given the somewhat enigmatic translation, "The Jewel is in the Heart Lotus." What this means is that the "jewel" of love and compassion is in our own Anahata chakra (heart lotus chakra) and is infused in the Consciousness of All Things (and we know that there really isn't a difference right? All is One.) This is a very powerful mantra because as we say it we cultivate a spirit of love and compassion first towards ourselves, where are non-violence practice needs to begin, and then toward all of the Universe. Farrand says as we chant Om Mani Padme Hum we are, "constantly pushing the wheel of humanity's spiritual advancement."

So, "drop out" of the TV news-watching-business and "tune in" to your Eternal Heart and the Consciousness of all Beings with chant for peace today!

May you be happy, May you be free from all suffering.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Heal Yourself with Affirmations

"In the infinity of Life where I am,
 all is perfect, whole and complete..."

Louise L. Hay begins many of the meditations/affirmations in her beautiful classic You Can Heal Your Life with this phrase. I use this book and a few others of hers all the time in my yoga classes. If you haven't worked with affirmations in your life I really encourage you to start right now! Take a break from what you are doing, take a deep breath and repeat the simple phrase above 3 times. Say it out loud if you can.

Feel that?

That is the peace and calm that comes from hearing something good about yourself and your life. How powerful is that? It's pretty much everything! We are what we think. What we think becomes habit and in the end our habits define our lives.

Most of us struggle with a lot of negative internal mind chatter. Begin to notice how many times you say something critical to yourself everyday. Would you speak that way to someone else? Would you criticize a child over and over and over again all day in that way? Most likely if you overheard someone speaking to another human being that way you would be appalled.

Once you have gained some awareness around this "voice" ask yourself if it really belongs to you? Or, is it the voice of many harsh critics from your past?

Next, begin to practice the opposite! When you hear that voice say something negative, say something positive me, it will give up:-)

Instead of:

I am so stupid!...I am so smart and learn easily.
I am fat and ugly...I am beautiful inside and out!
This is just my luck!...I attract positive people and experiences.
I am broke, I'll never have any money....I attract wealth in all its forms freely and easily.

Sometimes the critical voices in our heads come from deep feelings of unworthiness. This may be based on past experiences, or guilt over choices we have made. We can heal these heavy, afflicted emotions with affirmations as well.

Here is an excerpt from one of Louise Hay's affirmations that I have been using in my class this week. Take a few deep breaths and repeat it 3 times slowly to yourSelf.

In the infinity of life where I am
all is perfect, whole and complete.

I love myself; therefore, I only attract loving people into my world,
for they are a mirror of what I am.

I love myself; therefore, I totally release the past and all past experiences and I am free.

I love myself; therefore, I live totally in the now,
experiencing each moment as good and knowing that my future
is bright and joyous and secure,
for I am a beloved child of the Universe
and the Universe lovingly takes care of me
now and forever more.

All is well in my world.

Taken from You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise L. Hay

May you be happy, May you be free from all suffering. Om shanti.

Abinivesa, the Intimate Robe of Fear

This is an excerpt from the September 2010 newsletter of the Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation (KHYF). This foundation was established to continue the prodigious teachings of yoga master T Krishnamacharya. His son and grandson, TKV Desikachar and Kaustaub Desikachar respectively,  continue his lineage and work today in India and around the world.

In each newsletter Kausthub writes a short reflection on one of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. This month he discusses the concept of Abinivesa, or fear.

I love how he breaks down the word for us and how it enlightens the deep meaning behind the sutra. The phrase, "fear is an intimate robe that we continuously wear" rang particularly true in my heart.

May we be enlightened, may no separation come between us.

Sutra Reflections 
by Kausthub Desikachar

Even though there are many beautiful words in Sanksrit that represent the concept of fear, Yogi Patanjali chose to use the word abhinivesa, when talking about it. When we understand this concept, and more specifically this word, not only does his genius shine through, but it also becomes increasingly evident, that the yoga he is representing is a deep system of understanding the human mind, and presumably the first school of human psychology even.

The word abhinivesa seems to form out of a combination of three different parts, abhi + ni + veśa, ultimately bringing together this beautiful word.

The word "abhi", represents something which is "intimate" in us. Something which is so deep and private inside us, that often we don't even know it. And even if we know it, we would prefer to keep it very private. Isn't fear something so private that we would not often prefer to reveal it to others? Isn't fear something so deep that we are sometimes not even aware of it? Isn't fear so deep in us, that it often comes to shake our very sense of existence? Reflect about it.

The word "ni", probably represents the idea of "nitārām", which means continuous, or a long time. This is used in-conjunction with the word "veśa", which often means "cloak" or "robe" or "costume". So in essence the concept of "nivesa", comes to represent an eternal cloak or continuous costume. Fear is not only the continuous robe we wear to mask ourself, but it also makes us wear many masks on many occasions.

When combined with the first part "abhi", this becomes even more interesting, as it seems to indicate that "fear is an intimate robe that we continuously wear."

Isn't this what fear is, and what it does?

An alternate meaning for the word "nivesa", is also "to penetrate" or "to enter". When we look at it from this perspective, Fear turns out to be something that penetrates our most intimate self. This is also an interesting perspective to reflect on.

For continued reading on Yoga Sutra, please read "The Heart of Yoga", by TKV Desikachar.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thinking of you Tamar

This morning when I checked my email I found out that one of the most amazing women I have ever met had left her body. I did not know her my whole life, just for a short and special time. We did our yoga training at the Kripalu Center together. But, she touched my life with her kindness, insight, intelligence and her smile. She was a truly magnificent human being. She lived in Dancing Rabbit Eco-community and among other things she helped build many of the structures in the community with natural materials. I remember her telling me about this during YTT and asking her a million questions. "You can make houses out of straw and wood just like the old days and they look like that!! WOW!" I was just amazed. You can see some pictures of what I am talking about here.

She was also, of course, a yoga teacher. So bright and skillful and gentle. She could explain things so quietly and clearly. Another one of her many gifts.

After our YTT she went on to learn midwifery so she could attended and assist in the births at her community. Amazing stuff.

She also played the fiddle, loved to dance, had the brightest smile and the most glorious thick and shiny hair you have ever seen. She was one of the most conscious communicators I have ever seen. I told her she should work for the UN, she could probably get us all to find common ground and get along somehow.

In some of the group shares and one-on-one work we did together in YTT she said some of the nicest things to me anyone has ever said. I did what i could to thank her in words and tell her how healing she had been to me; but words fall far, far short.

When she was diagnosed last year with Neurendocrine pancreatic cancer I was just stunned. It seemed impossible that someone so young and healthy could have such a thing. Tamar started a blog at the time to share her Journey, as she called it, with friends and family and in the hope that whatever she discovered along the way might be helpful to someone else. You can read her blog here from the beginning. And,  here is the final post made by her sister yesterday. In her death she was so surrounded and cradled by love. That makes me happy and I am glad that she no longer suffers. But, I am gutted that she is gone from this realm.

After I post this I am going to harvest some herbs from my garden and begin making healing tinctures and salves. I wish you were here to get out there with me Tamar, it's such a beautiful day and I know how you loved to be outdoors, AND I know you know A LOT more about this stuff then I do! I will do my best in your honor anyway...maybe I'll see you out there:-)

This one's for you Tamar. May you be happy, may you be eternally peace-full. See you around sweet girl.

One of my favorite poems ever...

I live my life in growing orbits
By Rainer Maria Rilke

I live my life in growing orbits
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years,
and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm,
or a great song.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Meditation Is the Window to the Soul

Meditation is the window to the soul. 
Go sit quietly in the window and watch the world pass by.
– Anonymous

Being busy makes us feel productive, like we are getting somewhere. Where are we going? I like to stop and ask myself that question a few times a day. Life without Dharma (purpose) is just like asana without Dharma...nothing but asmita (ego/ignorance.) When all of your ego attachments...all the labels that tell you who you are are stripped away, what is left? Who are you? What is eternal, nameless, formless and yet always present, always accessible?

Go sit somwhere
right now
and just


Look in.
Find out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Our St. Patrick's Day Feast

Our St. Paddy’s Day Feast

I'm half Irish (and half Italian...Jesus, Mary and Joseph and Saints preserve us!) so I LOOOOVE St. Patrick' Day. Last weekend, my hubbie and I had a wee party at our house. Good times were had by all ("Eat up and give the house a good name!" as my Grammy used to say) and along with making some traditional, and some not so traditional, Irish fare we had plenty of Guinness, Powers Irish Whiskey and we made a fresh keg of home brew, an Irish Red, of course. 

I like to honor my Irish ancestors on this day so I put out a few pics of my family...
 This is my Grammy on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
This is a pic of my Aunt Willie getting married. Left is my Grammy, then my mom, and on the right my Aunt Agnes who was a nun at the time.

My mom couldn't be at our party, as she lives out of state, so I made her this lucky green Irish hat, which I am sure she is wearing today. 

 This is my husband and a few of our lovely guests partaking of an "Irish Carbomb"...let's get this party started:-) SLAINTE!

Now, on to the recipes...

Guinness Brownies
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or reg white flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
8 oz. dark bittersweet chocolate bar(s), chopped
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup natural cane sugar
1 1/4 cups Guinness Extra Stout beer, room temperature
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/8 cup powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375° and line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment (or grease it). Whisk the flour, cocoa powder and salt together. Set aside.

Using a double boiler (or in the microwave on low), melt the chocolate bar pieces, milk chocolate and butter together until fully melted. (Make sure you don’t burn the chocolate or it will be clumpy.)

In a very big bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until slightly frothy. Very slowly, pour in the chocolate mixture while whisking the eggs. If you go too fast, you’ll have scrambled eggs, so take your time.

When your chocolate mixture and your eggs are combined, whisk in the Guinness. Fold in the flour mixture very slowly, making sure not to over-mix. You want to see some crumbly bits still in there.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, top with the cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the baking dish and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.

Makes about 2 dozen large brownies.

I made a HUGE pot of this and there was not a drop left! SOOOO good:-) Also, I left out the bacon because I wanted it to be a vegetarian version.
  • 3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/4 cups hot milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
  • 1 (1-pound) piece ham or bacon, cooked the day before
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
Steam the potatoes in their skins for 30 minutes (I actually just peeled, boiled and mashed them instead.) Peel them using a knife and fork. Chop with a knife before mashing. Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps. Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time. Season with a few grinds of black pepper.
Boil the cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Add 2 tablespoons butter to tenderize it. Cover with lid for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly before returning it to the pan. Chop into small pieces.
Put the ham in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Drain. Remove any fat and chop into small pieces.
Add cabbage, scallions, and ham to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently.
Serve in individual soup plates. Make an indentation on the top by swirling a wooden spoon. Put 1 tablespoon of butter into each indentation. Sprinkle with parsley.

Corned Beef and Cabbage 
Mike (my husband) made this INCLUDING making his own corned beef! Awesome!
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pound Corned-Beef Brisket*, recipe follows
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound diced carrots, approximately 4 small
  • 1/2 pound diced onions, approximately 2 small
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped, approximately 3 medium
  • 1/4 pound diced celery, approximately 2 stalks
  • 1 small head cabbage, chopped, approximately 2 pounds


*Cook's note: Brisket should be prepared through the brining stage, but not cooked.
Place the corned beef, pepper, allspice, bay leaves and salt into a large 8-quart pot along with 3-quarts of water. Cover and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to low and cook, at a low simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
After 2 1/2 hours add the carrots, onions, potatoes and celery. Return to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the cabbage and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes and cabbage are tender. Remove the bay leaves and serve immediately.

Corned Beef:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saltpeter
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 12 whole juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 pounds ice
  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
Place the water into a large 6 to 8 quart stockpot along with salt, sugar, saltpeter, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves and ginger. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the ice. Stir until the ice has melted. If necessary, place the brine into the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 45 degrees F. Once it has cooled, place the brisket in a 2-gallon zip top bag and add the brine. Seal and lay flat inside a container, cover and place in the refrigerator for 10 days. Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and stir the brine.

After 10 days, remove from the brine and rinse well under cool water. Place the brisket into a pot just large enough to hold the meat, add the onion, carrot and celery and cover with water by 1-inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Remove from the pot and thinly slice across the grain.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: approximately 3 hours
Inactive Prep Time: 10 days

Homemade Guinness Mustard
There are many different kinds of mustard seeds – yellow, brown and even black. All mustard seeds are different. Some are spicier than others, so you might have to buy from a few different sources until you find your favorite.
3 oz. yellow mustard seeds
5 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/4 cup Guinness, or your favorite malty stout
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. honey

Place all of the ingredients in a non-metallic bowl. Metal bowls might react with the vinegar in not so tasty ways. Mix everything together and let it sit covered or uncovered for about an hour.
Place everything in a blender and pulse until your mustard reaches the desired graininess level. You can either use your mustard right away and it will have a little bit more “kick” or you can refrigerate it overnight for a mellower taste. Mustard will keep in the fridge for a very long while, but I would use it up within a few weeks if possible.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups mustard.

Happy St. Patrick' Day to you all! 

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookie with Agave Nectar

These are my favorite new cookies! Not too sweet, but crunchy and full of goodness. They are vegan too! I make these for my husband as a "breakfast cookie" to take to work with him.


Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookie with Agave Nectar
1 cup organic rolled oats
1 cup spelt, whole wheat or oat flour (spelt is my favorite)
1 cup ground almonds
1 Tbs flax meal
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 cup unsweetened cranberries or raisins
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3 Tbs agave nectar (or pure maple syrup)
1⁄2 cup canola  or grapeseed oil
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Mix the wet ingredients and stir into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.
4. Form 1” balls and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Press the balls down with your fingers.
5. Bake for 12 minutes or until crispy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Living Yoga

I recently came across an interview on the Yoga Journal Web site with one of my favorite yoga teachers, Aadil Palkhivala. The article contains some wonderful quotes from Aadil given durning one of his classes at the Boston Yoga Journal conference. Here they are:

Aadil says, the purpose of asana is "to help the body be a better vehicle for the spirit's command. Why do we practice? We practice for the exploration, discovery and fulfillment of dharma."

1. To learn if your practice is serving you, look at your life -- what is the state of your relationships? --That is, your relationship with family, with the earth, with food, etc.
2. To choose your teacher, don't look at the person's practice, look at the person's life.
3. Don't knit the ribs together during practice under any circumstances -- we want to expand the heart center, not contract it.
4. Never practice Uddiyana bandha while actively breathing -- it strains the heart. (During pranayama, it is done while holding the breath out.)
5. The best way to cultivate the rasa, or juice, in standing poses is by using the quadriceps. Bring the earth energy up into your legs using the quads, then into the pelvis, then knead that energy into your heart.
6. Don't send all of your prana, or lifeforce energy, out around you, tilt the pelvis up and send the prana into your heart.

Finally, some food for thought from Aadil: "It's a magnificent cosmic evolution which we are a part of, usually dragged kicking and screaming; but if we choose to participate, the suffering will end."

You can read the rest of the article here. You can visit Aadil's site and learn more about Purna Yoga and his teaching, here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cranberry-Orange Muffins: Gluten-Free & Delicious!

I've been doing a lot of experimenting with Gluten Free and Wheat Free baking over the last few months. Here is a recipe that I made this weekend that was a huge hit (that means not only did I like it, but my husband, Mike, LOVED it...and if Mikey likes it... 

Cranberry-Orange Muffins - Gluten-Free
2 cup Gluten-Free Baking Mix (NOW foods and Bob's both make good ones and I'm sure there are many others.)
4 Tbs Orange juice
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
4 tsp Orange Rind
6 Tbs Grapeseed or olive oil
4 tbsp Agave nectar or honey
1 cup cranberry sauce (see below) or dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Cranberry Sauce:
1/2 cup fresh raw Cranberries
Juice from 1/2 Orange
2 tsp agave nectar

1. Mix Cranberry Sauce ingredients and heat until berries pop.  Let it cool..
 2. Mix wet ingredients, then add dry and mix
3. Fold in Cranberry Sauce and walnuts.
4. Bake all ingredients together at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yoga in the NBA

My husband sent me this great article on Kent Katich, the Los Angeles Clippers' "yoga coach." More and more athletes and sports teams are turning to yoga to enhance their balance, flexibility, strength, prevent injuries and develop deeper inner focus and concentration. As yoginis we know nothing does all of that better then yoga and I am so glad to see more and more athletes developing a passion for practice.

Here is a little bit from the article:

The impact of yoga on players is difficult to quantify. The positive results from downward-facing dogs, half-moons and warrior poses are not the kinds of things that show up on stat sheets or box scores. But the players who train with Katich swear by him.

"Going into my 11th year in the NBA, I feel as though the work that we've been doing has allowed me to regain my youth," Davis said. "I believe if I can continue to master this art, then I can have a very long career in the NBA."

You can read the rest of the article by clicking the link below:
By Maria Burns Ortiz 
Special to ESPN Page 2

Low-Fat Tuna Salad & A Secret Weapon

So, I'm a fan of tuna salad, but I LOATH mayonnaise. Words can not explain how very much I hate it.

So, I use to always make my tuna salad with lemon juice and a couple drops of olive oil (very good I must say), but now I have discovered a new really awesome way to make it using one of my SECRET WEAPONS...

Low-Fat Greek Yogurt. Yep, it's da' bomb folks.

It's low fat, has lots of calcuim, beneficial gut bacterial and 15 grams of protein per cup, plus it has a lovely creamy texture. I grew up eating this in Saudi Arabia (where they call it Lubneh), but I never thought of putting it in tuna fish.

Without further ado here is my recipe:

1 large can of albacore tuna in spring water
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (low or non-fat)
2 celery sticks, chopped medium
1/4 onion, chopped medium
1 carrot, grated
2 Tbs raw sunflower seeds
1/8 cup chopped raw walnuts
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
fresh dill, if I have it
salt and pepper

I've also grated some zuccini into it and that is tasty. Sometimes I eat this as a sandwich, but usually I just put a 1/2 cup on a bed of fresh greens and top it off with some sprouts if I've got them.

Bon Appetito! Good eating and heath to you all!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Gayatri Mantra Practice

 This gorgeous Mala is available from North Carolina mala crafters Japa Mala Beads.

One of my goals for this year was to start a formal mantra practice. I love chanting mantra and have been doing so since I was given my first mantra in Transcendental Meditation at age 5, but I have never done a formal 40 day practice. Over Thanksgiving I was in Tulsa, OK visiting family and went to one of my very favorite bookstores on the planet, Peace of Mind Bookstore. I have been going to POM since I was 15 and it is an amazing incense-filled, garden of treasure. Every time I go there I stumble upon some incredible books that end up changing my life. This time I found several including Healing Mantras  and Mantra Meditation by Thomas Ashley-Farrand.

I think these books are absolute musts for anyone looking to develop a mantra practice. Mantra Meditation comes with a CD and this is what I used to make sure I learned Gayatri Mantra with correct pronunciation. Why is this important? And why a Sanskrit mantra rather than something in my native tongue?

Sanskrit is a very ancient language based on an alphabet with very particular energetic qualities. These mantras are extremely pure and energetically focused on enlightening and tuning the mind to higher frequencies. It is critical that whatever is used as a mantra is absolutely pure because it will be repeated so many times and have a profound effect on the mind. Thomas Ashley-Farrand explains it this way in his book Mantra Meditation:

"Ultimately, when practiced repeatedly, the mantra will result in a subtle change of the state in the organism, where the organism vibrates at a rate in tune with the energy and spiritual state represented by and contained within the mantra."

He goes on to say that:
"For thousands of years, the use of genuine Sanskrit mantras and spiritual formulas has been practiced in order to work in very specific ways to reduce karma and to attune our minds, bodies and spirits to the various invisible energies that exist in the universe. Systematic work with mantras also deepens our breath and automatically increase our ability to concentrate. As the mind becomes clearer, new kinds of perceptual information appear to us as our outer awareness expands. Inner awareness also grows as our karmic struggles are burned away through the repetition of these ancient sacred formulas. We begin to see in new ways, hear in new ways and understand in new ways." 
So, you can see there are amazing benefits to beginning a mantra practice. It is not only one of the most powerful and transformational forms of meditation, but it is also one of the most accessible for most people. Repeating the mantra silently or aloud while keep count on a Mala (a string of 108 beads...check out these beauties from Japa Mala Beads made just up the road in Asheville, North Carolina) occupies the mind so much that it can be an "easier" way to start meditating when compared to other techniques such as following the breath.

I started my forty day practice with Gayatri Mantra on January 10, 2010 and it has been a really wonderful new dimension of my yoga sadhana (practice). I have not been very strict about always chanting at the same time of day; sometimes I do my 108 repetitions in the morning, sometimes in the evening and occasionally (though this is not traditional) I do them while I am crocheting or needle felting hats. Sounds strange I know, but I can do one repetition per stitch and it is incredibly peaceful and I love that all the good energy from my practice is going into the hats I make for people.

When I practice my mind usually at first runs around like a monkey going through a catalog of all my thoughts of the day or things that have been occupying my mind. As the practice progresses this changes often into images, flashes of insight, words "written on a wall" (of my mind) and a general slowing of my thought process. My breathing becomes slower and deeper and sometimes sensations or colors in my third eye point begin to appear. Often the answer to some question I have been pondering will just "pop" into my mind. Sometimes I will have a sudden insight or "knowing" about something connected to another person or some event in my life, past or present. These are all just some examples of things one can expect to experience during a mantra practice. Everyone's practice will be different and each time we practice things will be different.

The long form of Gayatri Mantra is a longer mantra and it is not necessary to practice with something that long. You can start simply by repeating "Om" or Om Mani Padme Hum (the Jewel is in the Lotus...or "all that we need is inside us." Just start with a simple mantra and be consistent. Do a 40 day practice, or simply repeated it aloud and silently as many times as you can during the day.

Please post comments and questions (or email me). I would love to hear about your mantra practice!

For a little inspiration below is a short clip of me chanting the long form of Gayatri Mantra.

Sat Nam and peace to you all.  – Teal

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weekly Recipe: Alaskan Tomato Soup

This week's recipe is perfect for January's wintry weather. Just remember to use jarred or boxed tomato sauce as your base. (For information on why canned tomato sauce is so bad for you read my post here.)

Also, the original recipe calls for tofu, but I am not a fan of this highly proccessed food which can have very negative effects on estrogen levels in males and females, so I have left it out.  

Blissful eating and namaste,


Alaskan Tomato Soup

Vegetarian Times Issue: January 1, 2007   p.1. Time: 30 minutes or fewer

Alaska resident Angela Wilde uses cooking and eating to get out of the house, despite the winter elements. 

Ingredient List

Serves 6
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbs.)
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with sweet onion
  • 1 14-oz. can plain tomato sauce
  • 1 low-sodium vegetable bouillon cube or 3 cups homemade vegetable stock (much better:-)
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped oregano
  • 2 Tbs. chopped basil


  1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, bouillon cube and 3 cups water. Bring to a simmer, and add couscous, parsley, oregano and basil. Cook 5 minutes, or until couscous is tender. Season with salt and pepper, and serve hot.

Nutritional Information

Per SERVING: Calories: 162, Protein: 5g, Total fat: 6g, Saturated fat: g, Carbs: 24g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 678mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 7g

7 Food Experts Won't Eat

My brother Chris sent me this great article on 7 foods experts won't eat. Here is one that did NOT surprise me, but that I think many people would not realize can be very toxic:

1. Canned Tomatoes
The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe's and Pomi.

From: The 7 foods experts won't eat, by Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief, PREVENTION,
You can read the article and find out what the other 6 foods are, here

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Teal's Plan for 2010

Well, we are only 13 days into 2010...not to late too late to map out a plan for the year, right? Nope. It's never too late to reflect on life and see where some changes could be beneficial. So, here are some of my goals for the year:

1.  Do less, enjoy my life more.
2.  Open myself more and more to the magic and abundance of the Universe.
3.  Begin a formal mantra practice.
4.  Spend even more time outside (as much as possible!)
5.  Spend as little time on the computer as possible.
6.  Grow in my marriage as we begin our second married year together.
7.  Continue my education as a yoga teacher so that I can give more to my students and myself.
8.  Loose the 15 pounds of "loved-up" weight I have gained since I met my husband.
9.  Make more time for my own sadhana (yoga practice).
10. Produce at least one yoga DVD and book and several more audio recordings. Write to my blogs more.

Some thoughts on these goals:

One of my good friends has a motto, "The more you do, the more you can do." I love her, but I think this is total bullshit. This is the bullshit of the modern world telling us that "more is better" and we can "have it all". In this realm and in with the constraints of a physical body and time, we can not have it all. And is that really neccesary anyway? What we can have is "quality versus quantity," and mindfulness and deep experience versus mindlessness and a shallow skipping from one thing to the next. I want to FEEL my life and in doing less I feel infinitely more.

What is infinite is the beauty and wonder of the Universe. When I slow down everthing become brighter, tastes better, expands before my eyes.

To this end, I started a forty day practice of the long form of Gayatri mantra on January 10th. This means that I will chant the mantra 108 times each day (I use my mala, or prayer beads, to keep track.) This takes about 35 minutes and it is an amazing practice. I will post more on Gayatri later and give you updates on my observations throughout this practice.

One of my favorite ways to this is to be outside. Sometimes I just sit on one of the benches in my backyard and breath slowly and just watch. Oh, I love that so much. It fills my heart with joy. Being outside makes everything better.

My happiness is inversely purportional to my time spent on the computer. 'Nuff said.

At 35 years I was lucky enough to find my soul mate. Everyday with him is a gift and growing together in our lives is something I look forward to everyday.

Last year I was fortunate to study with some amazing yoga teachers including, TKV Desikachar, Tias Little, Aadil Palkhivala, Mary Reilly and Phyllis Rollins. As a result, I grew SO much as a teacher and student. I want this to continue in 2010.

Any yoga teacher will tell you that it is an ironic occupational hazard of being yoga teacher that one's own practice tends to suffer. With a full teaching schedule of group classes and privates each week it is easy for my personal practice to get shorter and shallower. This will change.

Love, sweet love. A wonderful thing is the abundance of love...not so lovely are the "love handles" which result from getting "all loved up." I've gained 15 pounds since I met my hubbie and while I am still a size 6 and extremely healthy, I don't feel good in my own all. This also goes back to the previous point about needing to make more time again for my own practice and other forms of exercise.

Writing to my blogs has been something I have enjoyed so much and I need to get back to it. I have several guided meditations recorded and for sale, but I want to do more. Producing my own yoga DVD and book has been a longtime goal and I want to make that happen this year. Balancing doing this (I will write, perform, edit and produce both of these myself) with my goal to limit computer time will be a great challenge.

Well, that's it! I'll let you know how it is going.... and I hope you will do the same! What are your goals this year?