Oh So London visit

We had lovely Lucy McGuire from Oh So London website visiting us. The visit was followed  by a lovely article on us in this website which you can read here.

During her visit she made this little video clip of me talking about spiritual healing. Come in and watch it here.

Minestrone

minestroneI think the best winter warmer food is Minestrone. A simple traditional Italian soup with a selection of vegetables, beans and pasta is just the comfort you want after a cold day out, warming your cold bones. It is nourishing but still quite light, full of perfuming garden herbs that wake up the appetite and make the soup easy to digest. I shared it tonight with my friends and we just couldn’t stop humming with pleasure. There are many ways of making it. I prefer it without tomatoes, with clear broth and a nice sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top. Here’s my recipe:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion

1 stalk of celery

2 carrots

3 big potatoes

1 can of beans (mixed, borlotti or cannellini)

1 cup of frozen peas

Handful of green beans

1 cup of small pasta

1 clove of garlic

1 stock cube

Pepper

Thyme

Sage

Parsley

Himalayan Rock Salt

Fry chopped onions and celery in olive oil, add all the rest of chopped vegetables, herbs and stock cube. Let boil until potatoes are soft. Add pasta, beans, crushed garlic, pepper and salt. Cook until pasta is al dente. Serve with a dash of olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.

Tip: if you know you’re cooking more than you’ll eat, you should cook the pasta separately. It will become soggy and lose being al dente if you leave it in the soup. If you freeze the soup only you can always cook some more pasta alongside with it.

 

Revolution starts from the dinner table

revolutionRussell Brand calls for revolution. I agree, it is high time, and hopefully not too late for us to take action. But, the question is in the air: how and where do we start a revolution, especially if you don’t have time to go and march in the streets? You can do your own little bit but what effect does that have on a large scale? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the luxury of a world wide influence like our Mr Brand, and we are easily left feeling helpless in front of a world full of inequalities and injustice.

The matter of fact is that if we do take action, even if it feels insignificant in front of the large scale problems, we take part in the process and it is exactly what a positive revolution should try to achieve: increasing the awareness of individual women, men and children to make wise choices about the health of the planet, it’s economy and their own peace of mind.

So where do we start increasing awareness? This task sounds almost mysterious. As if we’d need to go and find other realms of consciousness within our normal daily life. Not at all. It only means paying attention on what we do and the choices we make. And, you can start from the most basic activities of your day: choosing the right kind of food for your meals and eating it with full concentration.

  • Eat in a peaceful state of mind
  • Avoid media and intense conversation whilst eating
  • Chew properly
  • Don’t drink during meals
  • Eat one meal a day with eyes closed

The beauty of this practice of increasing awareness in eating is that the awareness starts expanding to other areas of life. Once you start and notice the results you won’t be able to stop it to influence all the activities. You just need to start from somewhere and I can’t find anything better than eating.

Eating with full awareness not only makes us more conscious of the quality of food we consume. That drives us to make wiser decisions when shopping. Focused eating also helps our digestive systems to process the food better thus enhancing the overall functioning of the GI-tract. Once our gut works well it has a beneficial effect on our minds. The gut health is directly related to our state of mind. Good gut health means better cognitive functions. Once we have achieved a positive and enthusiastic mind we are more inspired to make the small changes which eventually result in big changes.

It all comes to making right choices. Wise choices are made by a clear mind. A clear mind is devoid of mental mucous which develops if our digestive systems are not working properly. Clear digestive systems are at the basis of proper functioning of our bodies and minds. When we nourish them with proper food we are already taking part in the change the planet needs us to make. Therefore

  • Eat with awareness
  • Choose organic
  • Reduce meat eating to two times a week or become a vegetarian
  • Cook from scratch
  • Eat seasonal food
  • Avoid anything processed (even organic food can be highly processed)
  • Avoid wrapped food as much as possible
  • Avoid multinational brands
  • Shop locally
  • Use social media to spread the word

Spread the word through social media. Often considered a necessary bad but I think now it is time to harness this resource to its fullest capacity. Social media gives us a chance to communicate and not feel alone with our big and small attempts to create a better world. Social media can bind a large crowd together to stand against the disproportionate forces of economy that rule the world. It makes you feel that you are contributing to a common cause.

Start the revolution from your dinner table. Make choices that will encourage your local environment and businesses to thrive. Together they can form close nit communities where people can help each other to be more self sufficient and less dependent on corporations and the forces of economy directed from far and away. All you need to do is start taking care of the quality of your food and how you consume it.

 

Less pain, more gain

No Pain, No GainNo pain no gain. I think Jane Fonda should be put on trial for saying this. Although, I remember reading, she herself has come to agree that it wasn’t a very wise thing to say.

We are extremely fixated by this statement. It is defined even in Wikipedia:

“…an exercise motto that promises greater value rewards for the price of hard and even painful work. Under this conception competitive professionals such as athletes and artists are required to endure pain and pressure to achieve professional excellence.”

Because of this mindset I find it sometimes very challenging in my work to get the message of loving kindness towards our bodies and minds through. Many of us are so conditioned by this line of thinking that the equation of “less is more” sounds ridiculous to them.

Deepak Chopra, for example, is one of the most known proponents of the principle of less effort. More and more people are getting the gist but there is lots of work to do.

Let me put to you the essential facts that are wrong with the above-mentioned motto. Pain is stress. In stress there is hardly no gain. Or, you have to work much, much more if you have pain.

We do, nevertheless, need some stress because it helps us to perform better. The burst of moderate amounts of stress hormones provides us with more energy and can enhance brain functions like memory, momentarily. If stress is at a too high a level or lasts for too long a time the negative effects set in.

So there is good stress and good pain. But how to distinguish between the good and the bad?

Firstly you need to check your thoughts. If you are taken over by negative mindset during a performance you are under some kind of stress. Some seemingly stressful situations can be overcome without problems if your mindset is clear and you feel positive.

I am talking about our intention. When we set up on a challenging task with a clear idea of our motivations the unpleasant things along the way can be overcome with ease. Once we are inspired by what we do and set our intention to achieve something good the hurdles along the way won’t require that much effort to jump over.

Secondly, and this is a very handy thing to remember, is to check your breathing. The way to see if your pain or stress is bad is when your breathing changes towards more laborious one: faster and shallower. Under stress, also, you often start breathing through your mouth. This is especially important to notice during exercise. A safe way to exercise is when breathing flows comfortably through the nose. When we start gasping air through the mouth we are lacking in oxygen and that is a state of stress.

Often in a yoga class you can see people huffing and puffing to get that posture right. It is not right. It is probably painful and uncomfortable. During yoga practice the breath should flow slowly and easily. The postures should be steady and comfortable. If you huff and puff you are not doing yoga, but creating more stress. Some pain in a yoga posture can be pleasant. The stretching of muscles and joints is a liberating feeling. But you have to remember to stop when your breathing changes.

Pain and stress are physical, mental or emotional. Whatever the type, it is still stress. The more pain the more stress. When you go over the threshold of comfort and lose your motivation it is time to stop and change activity or tactics.

When we are relaxed, positive and have the right kind of intention the things at hand become easy to perform. We make better judgements on what is right and wrong, we are more productive and communicate better. If we try to push through with effort and pain everything becomes difficult and nerve-wracking.

The thresholds of pain are individual. You need to work out on a good mental and physical stamina so that you can withstand pains and stresses of life. A mind with clear intentions in a healthy, resilient body with strong resistance and immunity is what we aim for in Ayurveda. It is what nature wants us to be.

Everything is relative. The experience of pain is subjective so it is impossible to measure what is generally an acceptable level of stress or pain. You can only understand it yourself. Take it for granted that if you are not positive about what you are doing and if your breathing changes whilst you perform activities, you are in the bad area of pain. And, there is not much to be gained there.

Five things to remember when doing a detox

detoxFive things to remember when doing a detox

  1. Check out your mindset
    • Before you go on a detox you should understand clearly your motivation. For example, if you are doing a detox with weight loss in mind, because you feel criticized, you are very likely to fail because the reason for your detox comes from the outside. Make sure you are 100% committed to your detox for reasons of better health and clarity of mind. Never go on a detox under pressure
  2. Choose detox according to your needs
    • Everyone is an individual and the kind of detox to go on is to be chosen accordingly. The first thing to understand is whether fasting is needed. Certain body types should not fast, even when detoxing. It is perfectly possible without depriving oneself of food. For example, maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper detox is a very harsh fasting detox and should not be taken on by people with strong, fast or erratic digestive systems and especially not in autumn and winter. Seasons are also to be taken into account.  Juicing is ok in summer but not in winter. When you start your detox is of great importance
  3. Relaxation
    • Your body is the strongest healer and cleanser. It does not do that if it is under stress. Toxins lodge in the fatty tissue. Under stress the first thing the body wants to do is to withhold fat
  4. Do a no 2 every day
    • It is important to eliminate every day, preferably in the morning. If you do not eliminate toxins will start creating inside of you. And that is exactly what you are trying to avoid
  5. Stay positive and motivated
    • If you are struggling with your detox you are under stress. If the occasional feeling of hunger does not bother you too much and you can concentrate on doing things instead of thinking of food you are in a good place. If you are not obsessively pacing around the fridge thinking whether you should open it or not you should consider changing tactics
  6. Sip hot water
    • Sips of hot water make the enzymes thrive. Enzymes are responsible for digestion and metabolism. You want them to work to their best ability to break down the mucous and toxins in your body. Avoid cold water in large quantities at one go. It will slow down the enzyme function and increase mucous

Detox usually requires some strength of mind because you will have to say no to a number of things you might have been used to indulge in. During a cleansing program your mind should stay alert and positive with increased levels of energy. If you start feeling tired, faint, can’t sleep, have mood swings and almost uncontrollable cravings you are not in the right path of clearing out toxins. In the worst case you might even be getting more toxic. If nothing moves inside of you and your mind is feeling negative you have chosen the wrong detox and/or time.

 

6 dangerous toxins in your skin products

toxic_beauty_image_grande_grandeIt is the Organic Beauty week by Soil Association. We are proud to inform you that all the products we offer for beauty in our shop are as organic as you can get.

I will give you here a list of all the nasties our products don’t have. Each one of these is already a pretty mad thing to have in a product you put on your body. Think about having a variety of them in one product and you have a cocktail for…? I won’t say it but do keep away from this stuff.

Six dangerous toxins in your skin care products:

Propylene glycol is used as a skin sensitizer. It causes scaling, hives, burning, itching and blistering. It allows other chemicals to get further into the skin increasing the level of toxins found in the blood. Propylene glycol can be found in body washes, shampoos, hair sprays, toothpastes, baby lotions, colognes, shaving creams, and liquid hand soaps. It is toxic to the immune system.

Parabens are used to stop microbial growth and to extend the shelf life of the product. They will cause skin rashes, and other allergic reactions. They are extremely toxic and an immune system destroyer. Parabens are found in deodorants, perspirants and moisturizers. Paraben is known as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

Glycerin is found in numerous skin products, especially soaps. It is considered toxic orally in large doses. It can cause hemolysis, hemoglobinuria and renal failure. Glycerin is found in facial cleansers, conditioners, body soaps, hand soaps, bubble baths, bath oils, and after shaves.

Triethanolamine is another immune toxicant found in many products especially skin moisturizers. It is a possible carcinogen, a respiratory toxicant, skin or sense organ toxicant. It is used in facial moisturizers, mascara, styling gel, and tanning oil.

Sodium Laurul Sulfate (SLS) is one of the most common chemicals found in human hygiene products. SLS is a foaming agent used for scrubbing garage floors and cleaning drains. Steam from SLS has been known to cause lung damage and throat cancer. It is easily absorbed by the skin. SLS is found in hand soaps, facial cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos, toothpaste, and anti-aging cream.

Mineral oil is a petroleum by-product; it clogs pores and stops the skin’s ability to get rid of toxins. It causes acne, and other disorders, as well as premature aging. It is found in lip gloss, concealers, foundations, and facial cleansers.

 

 

Nutritional confusion

Dieting confusionI recently sat down with Angie Greaves from Magic Radio and Feeling Fab website to have a proper chat about nutrition. She finally said it in a nutshell: “There is a total nutritional confusion”. I couldn’t agree more. We are so bombarded by the media with all sorts of facts about the good and the bad of our diets that no-one really knows what is right and what is wrong any more.

Let me tell you what is wrong first of all: there is no one piece of advice that is good for everyone. We have to come to an understanding that every one of us in the universe is a uniquely built being and responds differently to every variety of food, food supplements, activities and stressors from the environment. A jog might be beneficial for people with good stamina but not for someone who hasn’t been jogging for a long time. An apple a day might keep the doctor away from someone who doesn’t get an acid attack right after eating it. Different sorts of vitamins of might benefit you or not. It depends how you digest what you take in.

I have a number of clients coming for a health consultation who tell me that there is nothing wrong with their diets and that what they eat is said to be healthy and with a high nutritional content. Still they complain they can’t lose weight, they feel tired or have problems of different sorts, ranging from digestive issues and skin complaints to headaches and sleeplessness, to name a few.

Here lies another core problem behind our dietary confusion. We don’t know anymore how to consume our food. It isn’t enough to know the nutritional contents of your smoothie. If you have it at the wrong time of the day, combined it with the wrong foods and perhaps eaten on the go, you are not likely to get many benefits from it. On the contrary, bloating, gas, cramps and unexplained pains become an unwelcome but familiar presence in your life. When you know all the simple things about correct eating you will be able to enjoy proper tasty food, not have uncontrollable cravings and have your body return to its ideal weight without too much effort.

And what lies behind it? That’s the Feeling Fab that Angie is talking about. When we feel good and relaxed our bodies are able to heal themselves. Most importantly, our minds are able to make decisions on our health that are conducive to stability, wellbeing and happiness. What this means, is that it is all in our minds. And believe it or not, your diet has much to do with your mindset.

Life – Light – Love

Hungry after your meals?

Hungry again

Have you ever thought why you feel hungry in the morning after having enjoyed a heavy meal in the evening? Or, have you ever wondered why you feel peckish only after an hour of your lunch?You would think that your body was satisfied for a little while but you still are craving for food. There is a simple explanation to this: you have not absorbed what you have eaten.

If you do not absorb you do not get the nourishment and energy you need. And then, you start craving more food, even if you still have food sitting in your stomach.

This is one of the most common reasons people have digestive and weight management problems. And of course, why we have cravings as well. When we eat at the wrong time or consume too much food at one sitting our digestive process is likely to slow down or stop all together.

Imagine yourself having a heavy meal and going to sleep before it’s been digested. At night the body should concentrate on other things other than digestion and having new food in the stomach confuses the body clock. Because of this the food can stay in your stomach for a long time and be only partially absorbed to your system. For this you might still get a taste of your evening meal in your mouth in the morning. And, because you haven’t absorbed you will feel hungry and crave for sugar and carbohydrates especially.

The same can happen after lunch. If you have eaten too much, too quickly, concentrating on anything else other than eating your digestive process will be in danger. Consequently your food just sits in your tummy causing gas and/or bloating. Nothing is absorbed and when that happens you get afternoon cravings. Sugar and carbohydrates become suddenly very attractive and hard to resist. This is because the brain uses them for energy and they can release it very fast.

For you to avoid these scenarios make sure you eat with awareness, slow down, chew well, take a break to eat, do not wash your meals down with a drink and make sure you are not eating bland food. Make is tasty; you need to satisfy your taste buds as well.

If you want to get to grips with your own digestion book for a consultation here.

Cooling summer drink

Ingredients for cooling summer drinkSweet bitter and astringent are the tastes that pacify pitta energy, the one governing in the warmest third of the year. The summer heat is best pacified by what the nature provides in harvest at the moment and the tastes mentioned earlier are present in this produce. A great cooling summer fruit is pomegranate. Add some of its seeds to your salads and squeeze some fresh fruit out of it. We here in the shop also have pomegranate juice and a pomegranate molasses, all great additions to your summer kitchen. A great cooling summer juice to cool you down is

1 part pomegranate juice

1 part aloe vera juice

1 part cucumber

Fresh mint

Mix together in a mixer and enjoy, preferably room temperature or without ice. Anything cold slows down your digestion and creates sluggishness and mucous in your digestive system. Also, cold drinks do not quench your thirst well but are likely to increase mucous, which easily creates when you have e.g. an unnamed black fizzy drink. Highly sugary drinks generally are not good to drink for thirst so between an occasional juice like the above, drink plenty of warm or room temperature water and enjoy the sun!

Hanging out with Rebecca in Portobello

rebeccaI enjoy working in Kensal Rise for many reasons one being its closeness to such cool places like Portobello. Having found out that the co-founder of the yoga teacher training school Yoga London lives just there is a great excuse for me to detach from the usual work surrounding and get some inspiration.

Rebecca Ffrench has been in an incredibly successful journey with Yoga London and has created, with her co-founder, a business of wellbeing and positive energy. I myself give a module on ayurveda in this teacher-training course of viniyasa style. Having been there since the beginning I have come to greatly admire Rebecca for her achievements and am happy that now she lives around the corner and we can share a cuppa down Portobello.

Nowadays, Rebecca does not do much teaching in the school but has moved into marketing and managing of her business including creating a retreat and training space in nothing less than Equador. They have already organised one teacher training this year in this wonderful eco-resort, rustic and close to nature, perfect for a yoga enthusiast who wants to get in touch with the real things. Rebecca is clearly very happy about finding this resort so I recommend everyone to have a look at the highlights in here. I think you’ll start feeling the same.

Life – Light – Love

Anu

P.s. If you feel inspired to sign into the Equador course or retreat do mention you got the pointer from me. 😉