Don’t worry, Be Healthy ☺

5 Sep

During the month of January 2014, I signed up for a nutrition program called “Clear the Clutter & Yes Your Desire” that was led by a peer Moksha student from the Square One studio known as Saar Grolleman (http://www.saargrolleman.com).  Just as a side note: I want share that Saar is an incredible woman who is passionate about helping people discover and achieve their personal goals. Its been amazing to watch her grow not only as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, but also as a yoga teacher in the last year.

I could have signed up or committed to any type of diet/regimen for my #BeHealthy project, but I purposely selected this one because of the focus on “(w)holistic” health which intrigued me. It appeared from the program description that I wouldn’t just be learning about food, but reflecting on my relationship with food as well as learning about raw foods and juicing which have been interests of mine for sometime. I also had previous  experience of working with a Holistic Nutritionist (www.ournaturalconnection.com) when I lived in London, Ontario, and one thing I really liked was the emphasis on whole foods versus nutritional supplements.

For the duration of this program, Saar made herself accessible via email and phone if needed. She was responsive and very informative. I also joined a Facebook group Saar had initiated and I found it motivating to share my thoughts and to read posts from others when I was struggling along the way.

To begin, Saar asked us to examine the clutter in our lives and asked us to start to set small goals to “de-clutter”. I started off with my “environment” by:

  • Moving piles of magazines, papers, or projects from bedroom floor
  • Removing piles of receipts and pay stubs off my bookshelves and making sure that my books, jewellery and other little knickknacks were neat and attractively arranged
  • Unsubscribing from 5 electronic newsletters – wow, that felt great!!! I wasn’t reading those subscriptions anyway.
  • Finished something that had been sitting on my “to do list” for sometime – in this case, organizing my closet.

Saar also encourage me to look at my personal/professional supports and money situation. For my supports, I focused on avoiding negative people and circumstances as well as identifying what I needed to feel happy, relaxed and fulfilled. With respect to money, I brought all of my payments up to date (i.e. sent in my Moksha invoice), and stopped over giving, as I have a tendency to pay for other people. These small acts made significant impact to my stress levels in that they decreased over the week. In fact, I encourage everyone to pause and reflect on these areas or perhaps other areas of their life that need de-cluttering. Its amazing how liberating such acts are!

Now, it terms of the food portion of the program my biggest “ah-ha”/ learning moments was realizing that it takes a lot of preparation, time and effort to eat well. I’m lucky I had one day off to get myself organized when I initially started.  The recipes were not only delicious but satisfying in terms of having enough to eat.  As the days moved forward, I had reflective activities to complete in addition to changes in the types of foods I was preparing and eating. I went from eating solid raw foods to eventually being on a juice fast and finally building my diet back up slowly and intentionally! It was fun to finally get full use of my Omega 8006 Juicer, purchased from Juicers 4 Life. The grocery lists and menu plans that were prepared by Saar were detailed and encouraged me to try foods that I would not normally put together. For example, while I was in the “Raw Phase” of this program I discovered this delicious chickpea salad and how much I love grated beets with chopped almonds as well. During the “Juicing Phase”, I had a hard time with some of the flavours of the juices. For instance, I realized that I do not like romaine juiced (weird after taste). While I was in this program, my skin really cleared and I had a lot more energy as well. Saar also suggested to exercise to aid with digestive processes and for relaxation, so without much encouragement I found myself on my yoga mat practicing at Moksha Yoga. :)

Green Juice

In addition, during this time I was also advised to explore current self-care activities and adopt suggested routines. After reading about oil-pulling online (I am a skeptic when it comes to these types of practices, so reviewing a few articles on the topic was helpful), I decided I would trial it with coconut oil for a month. My teeth were whiter, but it did take at least a week of getting used to swishing oil in my mouth for up to 10-15 minutes a day. I also started to make changes to the way I eat. I reflected on the type of meals I wanted to have with my family –  undistracted, no technology (no TV or cellphones!), and no background noise, just the company of and conversation with my family. In addition, I learned that I sometimes snack on junk food when I’m bored – when I could be calling a friend, drinking water (I obviously do not drink enough in a day!), or reading.

The last reflective exercise in the program asked me to think about what I want and this was a very important exercise to me. I had trouble with it at first because I thought the questions were too big, but as I reflected over time I realized that in order to live my personal or career goals I needed a community to support me (whether that be my family, colleagues, or others with similar passions). In order to achieve my goals, I also had to challenge the very thoughts that continue to hold me back from being my true self – more specifically, my fear of “not being good enough”. Well guess what, I am good enough.

I have been vegan and gluten-free since January 2013 and maintained my chosen diet while on this this program as well.  With the help of this program, I have found that I am more prepared in terms of coming up with creative meals/juices and replenishing vital minerals/nutrients (such as vitamin b12 and iron) to maintain my health. In addition, I’m more cognizant of other parts of my life that could #behealthy, such as my relationships, work, surroundings and finances. I’ve also decided that I will try these types of programs once or twice a year as I found it was a great way to restart and refocus my attention to not only what I eat, but my lifestyle as well. Here’s to being healthy! Cheers!

I Live to Learn ∞

16 Jan

As part of my Live to Learn long distance assignment, I decided to read and review a book that would inspire or perhaps guide my next project “Be Healthy”. While visiting the Moksha Yoga Kelowna studio in October, I purchased a book recommended to me by one of the students called The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self by Charles Eisenstein.

TheYogaofEating

The following review will highlight some of the content within this book, as well as, my reflections:

To start off, the length of this book is great, it was only ~160 pages long. This light-weight text was a good size for me to store in my purse and read on the subway. It was accessible both in size and in comprehension. Unlike other eating or nutrition texts, this book was not focused on nutritional facts, lists of what you should (or should not eat), or the latest dieting trend. Instead, the author presents a different perspective – one that is in line with yogic philosophy and principles. One such premise that is weaved throughout almost every chapter is a suggestion to make decisions about food by listening to the body. There are a few chapters that focus on reinforcing the mind-body-spirit connection – using the breath to bridge them as one. Although I did find this message repetitive, the author does not force opinions such as “thou shall not eat meat” but encourages the reader to be guided by their own experience. Thinking back to my teacher training, I remember some of my peers really struggling with cutting out certain foods (i.e. meat) and drinks (i.e. caffeine and alcohol). Some of my peers experienced digestion issues just by cutting out the meat. To no surprise, within a few days of training these individuals made a decision to go back to their preferred diet.

The author also presents ethical considerations about the impact of eating foods on the environment and the meat industry too. He also challenged me to reflect upon my personal reasons for becoming vegan this year. For example, was it driven because I’m eco-conscious? Because I think that the food is purer? Or perhaps because it actually makes me feel nourished?

This book describes the connection between nurturing and growth, as well as societal perspectives that have shaped our relationship to food from one that started off as instinctual to another that perhaps conveniently fits a schedule. The author identifies that “diet” in our everyday society means “diet of restriction”,  and continues on with a critique of “diets” or temporary restrictions from what our bodies really want (see the ad below from a fitness magazine I found in my house that perpetuates this thought). This chapter offers the reader an opportunity to reflect on how the external world (parents, religion, media, etc…) has shaped our self-image. He argues that our bodies have always had an innate way of taking care of everything – achieving homeostasis. Why wouldn’t you trust your body?

photo 3

The author recommends a number of activities to bring increased mindfulness to our experience of eating and a greater understanding of the parallels of breathing and eating. Some these activities include:

  • noticing sensations as you bite or chew
  • noticing the pace (slow down, finish each bite, chew before taking the next bite)
  • eat one meal in silence each day
  • be attentive to your first bite (what does it feel like? what does it taste and smell like?)

I decided I would trial these suggestions during my Be Healthy project (see next post)!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book because it was different from what I’m used to reading. Although it wasn’t evidence-informed, it was thought-provoking and sometimes that’s all you need to prompt self-reflection, which in turn may shift your own thinking, and maybe even change your behaviour.

Sangha Support ♪

1 Dec

During the third week of my teacher training I participated in a wonderful kirtan led by my teachers (Jessica Robertson and sister, Deena Robertson – See Lila for more information). A kirtan is defined as call-and-response chanting which may be accompanied by musical instruments.

Although I was raised by Hindu parents and was introduced to kirtans at a young age, I had never understood or connected with these lengthy singing sessions until my training. Having a better appreciation and new-found love for these events, I decided that when I returned home I would try to organize a kirtan for my local sangha (community).

After connecting with my studio owner, I contacted a well-known musician from our community, John William Bauld, to establish a date. The kirtan ended up being held during Diwali celebrations (Festival of Lights). Within weeks I printed and posted a flyer up in the studio, sent out emails, and began advertising the event on Facebook. I had a lot of education to do, many people thought the kirtan included an asana practice! If I were to organize a kirtan again, I would come up with a frequently asked questions document to help our Energy Exchangers and Teachers articulate facts about the event with ease. 

Kirtan_Flyer
I decided that the proceeds for this event would go to a local mental health service (which ended up being the Canadian Mental Health AssociationPeel Branch) since this is an area I am very passionate about. I also thought this was a good opportunity to raise the profile of mental illness and challenge the stigma by encouraging people to speak up. A number of people approached me before and after the event to thank me for choosing this cause. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your personal story, or experience about a loved one, living with a mental illness.

Did you know that “1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime”?

Learn more and get involved by making a donation (CMHA or CAMH).

The week of the kirtan, I began to decorate the studio with Indian garlands hoping I would increase awareness about the upcoming event and stimulate discussion. With some help, the studio was transformed the evening of the event (Thanks FM, RZ and JZ).

IMG_4013IMG_4014IMG_4015IMG_4017

The event was a great success! We had a good turn out and raised just under $400. The energy in the room that evening from the chanting was powerful….indescribable actually! A special thanks to John and his inspiring crew for leading the session and for introducing me to some new mantras as well.

Before we concluded the session, I asked everyone to light a candle and set an intention for the year for themselves or someone they love. Together, we created this beautifully lit OM (see below). I’m so happy that I was able to give back to my community and introduce some of them to the idea of kirtan. Thank you to my studio owners (SM and MM) for allowing me to host this event and share this amazing experience with everyone. I look forward to helping organize future kirtans in my community! :)

947306_10152360313214966_1333361763_n

Be Peace ✌

15 Oct

Thirty days of daily meditation – by far the most challenging project I’ve completed to date. I made a commitment of practicing meditation for 30 minutes to 1 hour daily. I started on the 15th of the month (as always!) after finishing a 60-minute Moksha Yoga (asana) class.

Within a few days, I became distracted in every way imaginable. I made up excuses to avoid sitting still; the very thing I yearned for since completing Teacher Training. I was conflicted. After reading Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda I was even more motivated to meditate, yet when I had the time I was lured into playing iPhone games or roaming on Facebook checking up on my “friends”. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to meditate before bed, I decided to delete the apps from my phone and disconnect from Facebook for the next 21 days.  I also sought out some guided meditations before starting my second phase with the hope of learning new techniques to calm my mind.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 8.14.10 PM

Here are some of the reactions and thoughts I had after disconnecting and meditating over the next few weeks:

  • IMG_2882I feel motivated and anxious about disconnecting with technology, but wow, I’ve discovered all of this extra time! Maybe it’s not so bad.
  • I felt refreshed this morning. It was definitely easier to maintain my concentration today.
  • My mind is racing a bit. I have a lot to do before the end of this week. I tried to listen to the guided meditation again, but it doesn’t seem to be helping.
  • I fell asleep twice. I think my body needs a rest.
  • I meditated for an hour and a half – oh my goodness! I didn’t even think that was possible.
  • My meditation came naturally today. I feel privileged to practice with others.
  • I feel motivated and inspired.
  • What a relief. I needed the quietness.
  • I am grateful for everything I have in my life.
  • I’m not so interested in Facebook anymore. I want to spend time with my family.

During this online hiatus, I had an opportunity to travel and meditate in to 2 different Moksha Yoga studios in Canada: Moksha Yoga Montreal, QC and Moksha Yoga Kelowna, BC. I want to extend my gratitude to the teachers, teachers-in-training, energy exchangers, and students who I met during this time. Thank you for being so welcoming!

My dedicated practice helped me to be more present, dare I say “awake”, during interactions with those around me. I realized that the key to understanding others starts with a deeper understanding of myself, which may be achieved with a consistent meditation practice. I’m really happy that I was able to work through what was holding me back from finding peace.

Be Accessible: My first video!

13 Sep

Please find below my first video blog focused on my “Be Accessible” project. Believe it or not, it took me about about 3 hours to film and edit this short 10-minute episode. I used iMovie and my Macbook Pro built-in video camera.

Enjoy!

P.S. I apologize for my excessive smiling but it I was so nervous filming this first entry!

Protected: ☸ Wheel of Life

7 Sep

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Living Green – From our garden

2 Sep

Here are some of the latest photos from our garden:

Green Peppers

Green Peppers Growing

Black Krim Heirloom Tomatoes

Black Krim Heirloom Tomatoes

Green Peppers and our first Pineapple Heirloom Tomato…

Pineapple Heirloom and Green Peppers

Lastly, our caterpillar friend found in the parsley….I think it was a butterfly caterpillar.

Caterpillar in Parsley

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,310 other followers