Articles for the Month of June 2012

Kundalini Yoga for Detox

oficina de kundalini yoga 3

oficina de kundalini yoga 3 (Photo credit: Alex Czajkowski (Amrit))

Whenever we introduce our bodies to more health, our bodies respond by kicking out its defenses, coping mechanisms and stored illness. This is usually not so pleasant, unless you have a great mind-set.

There are however some ways of dealing with the symptoms of detox. Kundalini Yoga helps us to get deeply into the sensations of our bodies.  Through breathing and movements that massage our internal organs and gently loosens up our joints and spine, we are primed up for a release that we can cope with and manage more comfortably.

I know this through experience.  I have felt the heat on my skin and the radiant strength pulling through in the midst of some ugly detox symptoms due to my own desperation to go to my Kundalini toolbox.  The simplest of techniques works for detox and intense kriyas may not be the ideal step in these circumstances.  Spinal Kriya, I believe is one of the best activities to do during an intense detox or cleanse.  All of the traditional Kundalini Yogi warm-ups also work well.  Chanting and any form of breathwork is great…especially alternate nostril breathing.

One thing I want to mention however is that everything is not detox. Sometimes the symptoms we experience are in relation to toxicity entering our bodies rather than being expelled.  In this way we may feel that Kundalini Yoga is failing us, or our bodies are just too toxic and we may as well give up on it and live complacently until we die.

Just because you’re eating raw or more raw foods doesn’t mean that everything you’re eating is high quality or safe for human consumption. There are lots of scams out there in the raw world and the best I can say without going into too much detail(for this blog post) is simple is better.

Just like in the yoga world, certain traditions have endured for good reason. And this is not to say that anything new is fake or fraud, but when it comes to the body our internal conditions need simple maintenance with the natural foods designed for us and that we were designed for. There are no villainous fruits and veggies and there are no elite exotic superfoods that you need for health.

Pili nut and other tropical fruits

How could these be evil? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What we need is to listen to, trust and nourish our bodies. We obviously need lots of water, sunshine, sleep, laughter and nutrition in our lives. We also need to trust that the universe is abundant in what we need to survive and not just those who can afford expensive, exclusive products.  Kundalini Yogis are vocally open about raw food nutrition.

In a class I took with Gurmukh she mentioned the superiority of raw food nutrition.  In the same studio, Anahata the studio’s owner had experience with Ann Wigmore’s raw food movement of the 70’s.  My very young yoga teacher trainer Jeffrey was in communication with Gabriel Cousins and included raw foods as a part of his teacher training and his teacher Siri Gian Singh is a raw chef.  I believe I have even heard Yogi Bhajan talk about raw food.

Unfortunately there are also people like David Wolfe going around claiming what Kundalini is, and I’ve gathered there are several others out there getting on the bandwagon just to use the name of Kundalini to sound shnazzy.  This is not to say that eating superfood products is the doom of civilization, but some raw food leaders (who are called gurus strangely enough) recommend an extremely high percentage of “superfood” products, supplements and practically condemn simple fruits and veggies.

So, I believe Kundalini Yoga can really help a person decipher the real healing from the fake.  It can take some time however to shift through it all, if you are connecting to the truth of raw foods and reading the soap opera version of the philosophy.  The same way people can connect to the philosophy of yoga, but are turned off by trendy, shallow commodities.

oficina de kundalini yoga

oficina de kundalini yoga (Photo credit: Alex Czajkowski (Amrit))

I have experienced transitions within my body in adapting my eating patterns to a raw and fruit-centralized style.  However, before I became a fruitalini, I was a nutalini and consumed high quantities of fat and processed superfoods.  I suffered with what I believed was detox for a really long time and was so paranoid about doctors and stuck in the paradigm of “this is so expensive, how can I get help”  that I wouldn’t get help and figure out what was really going on with me.

Once I found the fruitalini way, through 80/10/10 by Doug Graham, I was free from constant pain and detox.  This doesn’t mean my body didn’t cleanse.  It did, and when it did I decided to write this post about how the discomfort was cradled by my Kundalini Yoga practice.

I am not eating 100% raw right now.  I am still cleansing every now and then as I add and subtract from my fruit-focus.  When I cleanse, I get on the floor, with fire breath and spinal twists and my bodily sensations erupt with an action that clearly creates a response to help me “Stay calm and carb up!” or “Stay calm and keep up!”  After 3+ years in the high carb, low-fat raw style, I am a million times more stable in my eating and health.  I know how to be reasonable with my self and enjoy what I’m doing.  I’m ready to challenge myself to up my raw intake again, so it will be fun to share my detox/cleanse days and show what is realistic and helpful during this time.

~~Sat Nam~~And May the Fruit Be With You~~

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Menu Plan Mondays

Next Wednesday I’ll respond with what I actually ate.    Once again I’m linked up with a few hundred menu planning bloggers at orgjunkie.com.

Here’s my meal plan for the last week of June, 2012.

Monday went like this:  Breakfast: Peaches  Lunch: banana/grape/strawberry smoothie  Dinner 1:  Rice/tomato/potato soup & Guacamole/Sonora burger wraps

Tuesday plan:  Breakfast: Watermelon  Lunch:  Banana/berry smoothie  Dinner 1:  Vegan French toast & Pineapple/Green Smoothie  Dinner 2:  Raw vegan cabbage coleslaw w/ hemp seeds & Cauliflower rice (lemon/herb)

Wednesday plan:  Breakfast:  Melon salad  Lunch:  Orange/fruit salad  Dinner 1:  Datorade  Dinner 2:  Cabbage leave tacos w/ Sonora burgers & Yucca/potato soup

Thursday plan:  Breakfast:  Chopped fruit w/ banana mylk  Lunch:  Peach/banana smoothie  Dinner 1:  Rice Salad & Fruity lettuce tacos w/ Quinoa noodle speghetti  Dinner 2: Cereal & Coconut mylk

Friday plan:  Breakfast:  Melon  Lunch:  Banana/fruit icecream  Dinner 1:  Fruit salad & pineapple rice noodles Dinner 2:  Sunflower burgers w/ Jicama fries & gazpacho

Saturday plan:  Breakfast: Cantaloupe Lunch:  Fruit Salad(bananas, cherries, peaches)  Dinner 1:  Potato/carrot salad & fruit frosty(whatever fruit is left) & carrot slaw

Sunday plan:  Breakfast:  banana smoothie  Lunch:  Grocery day, so as we go…

*Snacks as we go, Second dinner is optional

Sadhana Share Sunday

Sadhana

Sadhana (Photo credit: Roshnii)

 

What did your Sadhana look like today or this week?

What theme are you exploring or what are you gleaning from your practice in your daily explorations?

Can you show your sadhana space, music or mantra?

If you’re teaching sadhana or doing sadhana with others what is the dynamic like?

Even better what did you eat before, during or after sadhana(especially if fruity!)

I’d love to know.

~~Sat Nam

Sound Healing Saturday

Gong plus original leather and wooden stick pu...

Gong purchased in 1850s India in the Ganges valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Sound healing is a big part of Kundalini Yoga. Traditional Kyoga sessions are begun with a mantra called the Adi mantra: Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo

And end with long Sat Nams…the “Namaste” of Kyoga.

Also in a traditional Kundalini Yoga class you will likely engage in some chanting, perhaps gongs and crystal bowls, and your yoga teacher might play guitar, harmonium, tablas or whatever else they may find conducive to the meditative environment.

You might make yogic sounds with your breath(you should anyway), your voice or your body. Kundalini Yoga is not quiet yoga. It can be…we love our silent deep relaxations, which seem long, but when it’s over you wish you could do it longer and realize how active your body and mind are during those silent, still moments. However, sometimes our meditations are loud, and even the kriyas themselves can be loud, or just resounding…that’s a better word.

Even if your class is absent of chanting and mantras, I’ll bet there is a smidgen of sound healing present.

Fridays on Spirit Voyage free music mp3s become available for download.

You have to visit Facebook.com and like Spirit Voyage, then click on the button to unlock the download.

https://www.facebook.com/spiritvoyage?sk=app_106029419487572

On another note 3HO’s Summer Solstice is in full force right now with some amazing yogis making amazing music. It will be followed by Women’s Camp and Youth Camp. You have plenty of time to prepare for another Yogi festival, however. Sat Nam Fest East takes place in Pennsylvania on September 13-16th and if you purchase your ticket(s) with me you get a discount and you might be able to win a free ticket. Use the code: SFEMERA on www.satnamfest.com

 

Do you have a sound healing practice you’re into right now?

Share stories below.

~~Sat Nam

What I Ate Wednesday…Fruitalini-ish

Bucket of raw Abelmoschus esculentus (okra) pods

Bucket of raw Abelmoschus esculentus (okra) pods (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Unfortunately I didn’t really record this so I’m going off memory. I was cleansing a bit over the weekend so what I remember is:

Friday: Eating fruit all day including, a big banana smoothie for lunch and Cantaloupe for dinner
Saturday: The same, except that I also had potatoes & okra for my second dinner
Sunday: Rice noodles, okra and kim chee for dinner
Monday: Tomato gazpacho(that I blogged about earlier this week but can’t find anywhere now) with celery for dinner
Tuesday: Veggie burger (Earthfare brand) and rice/almond bread for dinner

So…I didn’t really follow my guidelines very well last week. I was low energy, snotty and sneezing, etc. from Thursday-Monday, and I am not quite on a decent sleeping schedule, which knocked me off for sure.

I ate a lot of fruit throughout the week but things became a blur after I got sick and I just can’t remember since I ate so many times, not really sticking to large meals like I normally do.

I will see if I stick to my menu plan more-so next Wednesday.

Summer Solstice Week: Menu Plan Mondays

This past weekend I went to the natural foods grocery store here called Earthfare.  When I first went here I was a little shell-shocked at the prices, but now that I’ve been shopping at the regular grocery store for a few months, I realize there’s really not much of a difference.  Some things are cheaper, some things are not, and it doesn’t really depend on rather its organic or not.
This Wednesday I’ll respond with what I actually ate last week.   I got a little detox/sick this past weekend as well, so I didn’t buy a ton, a lot of dried fruit/veggies, all sorts of berries, cherries, bananas, cantaloupe and veggie burgers.  Once again I’m happy to link up with a few hundred menu planning bloggers at org junkie.

Monday went like this:  Brunch:8  Bananas  Dinner 1:  Potato/okra veggie burgers in lettuce wraps & veggie burger on rice/almond bread  Dinner 2:  Cereal

Tuesday plan:  Breakfast: Watermelon  Lunch:  Banana/berry smoothie or “cereal”  Dinner 1:  Vegan French toast & Pineapple/Grapes/Green Smoothie(very yummy)  Dinner 2:  Guacamole wraps & cauliflower rice w/ tomato sauce

Wednesday plan:  Breakfast:  Watermelon  Lunch:  Cantaloupe  Dinner 1:  Banana smoothie  Dinner 2:  Carrot slaw & Yucca/potato soup

Thursday plan:  Breakfast:  Chopped fruit w/ banana mylk  Lunch:  Cantaloupe  Dinner 1:  Rice Salad & Fruity lettuce tacos & raw broccoli/tomato/orange blended soup  Dinner 2: Melon

Friday plan:  Breakfast:  Melon  Lunch:  Banana/fruit icecream  Dinner 1:  Fruit salad Dinner 2:  Gazpacho w/ tomato & avocado & steamed broccoli w/ hemp seeds& sweet potato fries for daughter #1 (cause Friday is “fries day”)

Saturday plan:  Breakfast: Cantaloupe Lunch:  Cereal w/ Coconut mylk  Dinner 1:  Raw peach cobbler &  French toast  Dinner 2:  Sonora burgers w/  & gazpacho

Sunday plan:  Breakfast:  Cantaloupe  Lunch: Raw Peach cobbler   Dinner 1:  Banana pudding & raw carrot slaw Dinner 2:  Whatever

*Snacks as we go, Second dinner is optional

*Sunday we’re going to a luau so I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that…I’ll let you know what we do next Wednesday.

Extended Breastfeeding Vegan: Still Nursing

Breastfeeding symbol

Breastfeeding symbol (Photo credit: Topinambour)

The breastfeeding relationship can ebb and flow over the course of a natural duration.  Natural duration, is commonly called extended breastfeeding, but it is not extended when it comes to the history of humanity across cultures.  The natural duration of weaning is between ages 4 and 7. With all the breastfeeding controversy I wanted to share a particular report I read last year.  I think it would be great to add some stories here and my breastfeeding inspiration to paint a vivid picture of the breastfeeding diorama.

One story:

A woman could not breastfeed.  Her nipples were inverted and she did everything she could to try breastfeeding her daughter but it didn’t work.  She used her love and passion for the “womanly art” to write a guide for mothers participating in WIC in her area about breastfeeding.  I hope this woman is a Lactation Consultant or working in the birth/postpartum, maternal/child health field today.  We need more people like her in the field!

Story two:

I did a breastfeeding counselor training while pregnant with my first daughter.  I was inspired by the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the fact that babies were suffering because they didn’t have clean water for formula.  I thought they could find out which women were lactating and make sure the babies were fed.  Breastfeeding was something I’d never thought of before.  5 years later my two daughters are still breastfed. I know that I was able to keep this up through support and accurate information.   I can understand how easy it is to not breastfeed or to not stick with it if you don’t have qualified support or accurate information, and sometimes it really is impossible.  However breastfeeding is a powerful act and unfortunately I see so many times that people criticize women who breastfeed for an “extended” period of time, by saying they’re doing it for themselves.

I believe this is the farthest from the truth.  I believe that mother’s who continue to breastfeed their children after whatever is thought of as reasonable in their inner circle, do so for the children.  I literally think there are zero women out there who are clinging to their children and forcing them to breastfeed.  I literally think there are zero moms who don’t look forward to having their bodies back.  Yes, it is awesome to snuggle up and watch your children so closely while they nurse…but its not always so pretty.  You may have to go through stages of biting, quick snacks, wrestling, twiddling, non-stop nursing marathons, and so on.   Children learn more about empathy through these stages, when they are patiently corrected and shown the impact they have on mommies.

So without going through the whole list of benefits for the child, the parent and communities, let’s just say that no one is breastfeeding strictly for their own benefit.  It’s a team effort.

UPDATE May 2017:

I stopped breastfeeding my kids about ages 6 and 4.5.  I now have a new baby.  One person I talked to about extended breastfeeding is Sophie Emma Rose.  She dedicated herself to normalizing extended breastfeeding also known as child-led weaning.  Check out her Youtube Channel here.

Consider donating to her son here: https://www.youcaring.com/sophieemmarose-819142

Menu Plan Mondays

I like to plan my meals.  Especially when transitioning or maintaining a fruit-centric lifestyle without a natural abundance of fruit.  In other words, when I shop at the grocery store, I have a hard time keeping my food and meals in check.  If I don’t meal plan I get lost in the haze of eating and shopping.   Next Wednesday I’ll respond with what I actually ate.  I believe this will help me determine where I am and where I need to go with my eating habits.   I’m happy to link up with a few hundred menu planning bloggers at orgjunkie.com

It’s still Monday for me(though not technically).  I bought groceries tonight and procured 2 pints of strawberries, a pint of blueberries, 6 cantaloupe, 2 watermelons, plums, nectarines, pineapple and organic bananas.  I also got iceberg lettuce, cauliflower, tomatoes, avocado, celery and yucca and other things you don’t wanna know about.

Monday went like this:  Breakfast: Watermelon  Lunch: 10 bananas  Dinner 1:  Rice noodles soup w/ lentils Dinner 2:  Pineapple, Sweet potato fries & rice noodles

Tuesday plan:  Breakfast: Watermelon  Lunch:  Banana/berry smoothie or “cereal”  Dinner 1:  Vegan French toast & Pineapple/Green Smoothie(yum, that sounds good)  Dinner 2:  Raw vegan cabbage coleslaw w/ hemp seeds & Potatoes (lemon/herb)

Wednesday plan:  Breakfast:  Watermelon  Lunch:  Cantaloupe  Dinner 1:  Banana smoothie  Dinner 2:  Cabbage leave tacos & Yucca/potato soup

Thursday plan:  Breakfast:  Chopped fruit w/ banana mylk  Lunch:  Cantaloupe  Dinner 1:  Rice Salad & Fruity lettuce tacos  Dinner 2: Melon

Friday plan:  Breakfast:  Melon  Lunch:  Banana/fruit icecream  Dinner 1:  Fruit salad Dinner 2:  Guacamole wraps & Cauliflower “rice”

Saturday plan:  Breakfast: Cantaloupe Lunch:  Cereal w/ Coconut mylk  Dinner 1:  Raw peach cobbler &  French toast  Dinner 2:  Sonora burgers w/ Sweet potato fries & gazpacho

Sunday plan:  Breakfast:  Cantaloupe  Lunch: Raw Peach cobbler   Dinner 1:  Banana pudding & raw carrot slaw Dinner 2:  Whatever

*Snacks as we go, Second dinner is optional

Describing Kundalini Yoga, Pt. 1

Meditation

Meditation (Photo credit: Gurumustuk Singh)

 

There’s a reason Kundalini yogis don’t usually go the easy route and just say “I practice or teach yoga”. I mean, I’m sure some of us do from time to time, especially when tired, but when we’re on we know we absolutely have to tell the whole truth and that is that we practice Kundalini Yoga.

 

Modern ideas of yoga can be very limited when Kundalini yoga is so diverse and different from what many yoga practitioners experience in their gyms, community centers and Yoga centers. From what I’ve seen Kundalini yoga is usually practiced in more spiritually minded centers and in studios owned by Kundalini yogis themselves.

 

Of course it is also practiced in schools, prisons, hospitals, in homes and parks. You can even occasionally find Kundalini yoga in a gym or yoga studio that offers different types of yoga. But I really want to explain what sets Kundalini Yoga apart.

 

My daughter was an accomplished yoga teacher before she was 2 years old. She led a room full of adult yogis on a regular basis…she knows her Kundalini. So today when she was showing some impromptu yoga to my teenaged cousin my cousin doubted that what she was doing was actually yoga. “I thought yoga was quiet”. My cousin said. “Not our kinda yoga.” I responded. But I don’t know if she understood that I wasn’t talking about my daughters personal brand of spontaneous yoga or a strong lineage of the Kundalini Yoga community.

 

Another time she saw my daughter doing self-professed yoga and responded “that’s not yoga, it’s just running around.”  I explained to her that sometimes in Kundalini Yoga we run around in circles.  Later she saw my youngest daughter doing breath of fire and questioned, “what are you doing?  Oh, you’re doing yoga?”  She’s starting to get it.  I taught my cousin a KYoga class once, but it was just a beginner’s Spinal Kriya.

 

So what exactly is Kundalini Yoga and what sets it apart from other types of yoga?  Well Kundalini Yoga is not the only type of yoga that is mind, body dynamic, but in my experience it is the only one that works as fast as it does.  Kundalini Yoga is breath-centric.  We don’t just breathe deeply…we breathe in completely, extending the breath and do the same with exhales.  We focus our breath on our mudras, or internally, we use only nostril breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and different techniques of using the tongue to manipulate our breath.  Most well-known is breath of fire.  A type of pranayama that has been insultingly described as hyperventilating, but actually expands the breath capacity and is focused in the belly, rather than the chest, it feels freeing rather than restricting.

 

There are so many aspects to Kundalini Yoga that I cannot write in just one blog post.  But most important to the practice is breath of fire.  You could practice breath of fire in bed, in the car, while walking, while dancing, in the shower, or you could sit down, with legs crossed for 11 minutes everyday to practice it and you will get joyful results.   If you start with the breath it will take you places and that is where I will end this first introduction to Kundalini Yoga.   I will return with the other aspects shortly.

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Crazy Melon Mama!

Watermelons

Watermelons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yay!  It’s melon season!  My introduction to eating a high-fruit diet was over 3 years ago.  It started with bananas, but things got really, really good when melon season came along.  I was in Florida at the time, orange season was ending and I was traveling.  I spent my time eating melons, pineapples and bananas.  We’d eat maybe 2 melons a day as a family.  We’d go the park or the beach and stay there all day and devour a sweet juicy melon, or two.

The next year we did the same thing in desert CA.  The year after that it was the Capital city of California and now, I walk into the local grocery almost throwing my small frame into the huge box of watermelons to get the ones that are truly ready.  I lean over the edge, rolling melons out of the way, toppling dark green fruits towards me and carefully lifting the cool giant fruit into my palms and tapping.  The best melons only need to be slightly tapped once.  Usually I can tell as soon as I hold the baby in my arms.

My daughters in the plastic grocery store car portion of the cart want to play the tapping game too.  So we go through this container of 20 or so watermelons and pick out the best eight.  When I get to the check-out I draw a crowd.  My cashier doesn’t know how to ring up all the produce I have…not including the watermelon which he didn’t see since I left them in the cart.

The teenaged boys have a boisterous conversation about my grocery choices. One assumes I’m from Jamaica.  I really don’t hear them.  I’m in my own world.  Dreaming of watermelon breakfasts.  It is an ordeal to get my groceries rung up and put into bags and carted off in two carts to the car.  One of the boys told the others not to hate me for my health.

They ask if I’m having a fish-fry.  That would be the only reason for having 8 watermelons in this town.  I tell them I’m going to eat one everyday, and one is for my mom.  The guy who brings my cart can’t believe I’m going to eat a whole watermelon everyday.  I can’t wait. I’m untouched by the surprise.

I also got lots of peaches, 2 containers of strawberries, a bag of apples, grapes and bananas.  I’m kind of sad that orange season is over.  Matt’s Organic Valencia’s made my spring!  I’m ready for melon mornings to become a new norm, however.  Melon before or after Sadhana?  That is the question.