Durga - Mothers Nature

Bodhi Tree - Friday, August 01, 2014

by Kristen Beaulieu, devoted mother and inspired yoga teacher

Over the past couple years I have walked deeply into the role of motherhood as a stepparent to my husbands now 13-year- old daughter. As this journey began many mothers, new and experienced, were drawn into my life, and it seemed, whether you birthed these beings yourself or were gifted them through a relationship the role of mother was full of hesitation, doubt and unwavering devotion. During a particularly tumultuous time it was suggested to me to create a daily Sadhana to the hindu goddess Durga, to help me traverse this daunting path.

Maa Durga is the big Mama of hindu gods and goddesses. As the tale goes, she was created by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva for the slaying of the buffalo demon Mahisasura, as they themselves were powerless against the demon. Embodying their collective energy Durga is both derived from the male divinities and the true source of their inner power. She is also greater than any of them. Durga presents a fierce menacing form to her enemies with her 8 arms wielding weapons of destruction and creation. Mother Durga rides in on the lion, master of it’s symbolic qualities of power, will and determination. She defeated the buffalo demon and is celebrated as the ultimate power inherent in all creation.

If we were a tribe Dugra would be the matriarchal head of the tribal family. The big kahuna of Shakti power. She is the mother of the world. Like a parent, with her many arms she protects her devotees in all directions, from the evil and miseries of life.

In calling on Durga, you can’t help but ignite her fierce momentum. Like all paths of creation, the process is tumultuous and at times painful. The process will forever change you, propel you into a new being with greater power and purpose than before.


Health Tip of the Month - Herbs

Bodhi Tree - Friday, August 01, 2014

by: Corinne Ellams R.H.N. Holistic Nutritionist and yogini

www.loveandlightnutrition.com

It’s summer time and fresh herbs are abundant so head out to one of the many farmers’ markets and select some fresh organic herbs which are packed with nutrition and healing properties. Next spring consider starting an herb garden in your yard or in pots on your deck or balcony.

Parsley, the world’s most popular herb, is a digestive aid. When Peter Rabbit had overeaten Mr. McGregor’s vegetables and “was feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley”. Parsley supports the bladder, kidneys and stomach, helping regulate water imbalances and eliminate toxins. It is an anti-carcinogen and antioxidant packed with vitamin A and C. A sprig of it also freshens the breath. Use it as garnish, add to salads, dressings, soups, sauces, crackers and as a vibrant ingredient in steamed vegetable dishes.

Cilantro, one of my favorites for it’s detoxing property, is either adored or repulsed by people. Cilantro supports the spleen, stomach, bladder, and lung meridians. It helps regulate energy and treats urinary tract infections. It helps with nausea, inflammation, headaches and mental stress. Cilantro is used like parsley as a garnish and flavoring herb. Use it sparingly with delicate ingredients or it’s flavor will overpower. Or use it in large quantities in strongly flavored sauces, salsas and guacamole.

Dill, is an aromatic herb with delicate lacy leaves that helps calm the spirit, aids digestion and insomnia due to indigestion and relieves hiccups and intestinal gas. It provides free radical and anti-bacterial protection, is high in calcium, has a calming effect and helps manage headaches. Add this herb to fresh salads, sauces, breads, fish and pickles. Check out my web site for a delicious, easy to make cucumber, dill salad.

Basil, is tender and pungent with distinct flavors and aromas. It supports the kidney, liver, stomach, spleen and large intestine. Basil sharpens the memory, combats colds, flu and herpes, eliminates infections, is antibacterial, removes phlegm, relieves mucus, and acts as an anti-stress agent. Basil is especially savored as a pesto ingredient and goes great with tomatoes, fish, bean and egg dishes.

Oregano, has a punchy, almost peppery and slightly bitter flavor and is a powerful herb with unique healing properties. It has antioxidants for immune support, anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, support for upper respiratory infections and cancer fighting effects. Oregano is great in Greek and Italian dishes, especially tomato based ones like pizza or pasta dishes. I enjoy adding lots of fresh or dried to a Greek salad, steamed vegetables or eggs. One of the best uses of oregano in cooking is adding it to your meat prior to cooking which may help to reduce the toxic components created during the cooking process. Oregano oil is a wonderful addition to your natural medicine chest.

Thyme, is a balmy, aromatic herb with slender woody stems and gray-green leaves. It helps relieve lung congestion, candida, flatulence and indigestion. It is an all purpose savory herb great for flavoring soups, stews, crackers, stuffings and sauces.

For most nutrient value and best flavor, use herbs fresh and if using in cooking add towards the end - as late as possible. So add in fresh herbs to Upgrade your salad, sauces, soups and other culinary delights!


Lakshmi - Allowing Abundance

Bodhi Tree - Wednesday, July 02, 2014

by Amy Bidrman - pre and post natal yoga teacher and wildly inspired momma goddess!


Sri Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance, wealth and beauty. My limiting beliefs about these ideals are what keep me enthralled with her. When I find myself with an attitude of resistance to excess, or judging some material or ostentatious display as wasteful or “too much,” I am suffering both attachment (to some ideal of simplicity and resourcefulness) and aversion. I am approaching life from a perspective that comes from beliefs clinging to scarcity, an unconscious loyalty to lack, or a wanting mind.

Lakshmi moves us beyond our limiting beliefs by opening our hearts to greater acceptance. Underlying the spirit of Lakshmi is the belief that in every moment, you are enough, have enough, and know enough to be exactly where and who you are. She allows us the true experience of abundance in all areas of our lives and thoughts, and at the same time the freedom and liberation of their surrender. If our perception is derived from the source of inner contentment, then we start to get a sense of the abundance, the true wealth, and the beauty of Lakshmi.

I had a rather exotic but quite practical great Aunt Mary. She was a school principal, was well travelled, single, confident, inspiring, wise, brave, and she had an impeccable sense of gifting - a way that combined great adventure with a great sense of responsibility and practicality. Her gifts of abundance (a plane ticket!), of beauty (my wedding dress!), and of wealth (cash!) came from her open heart. She was good just for ‘goodness’ sake, and her generosity came from great spirit. Her example is an inclusive and embodied spirituality. Like Lakshmi, she removed any separation between her open hearted spirit and her ordinary life.

Lately I align with the spirit of Lakshmi by manifesting financial abundance as a karma yoga practice. Three years ago I started offering my time teaching gentle asana classes to pregnant and new mothers for donations, and over the last few years a community has grown and flourished. Thousands of dollars in donations for both local and international organizations in support of maternal health have been lovingly accepted. It all came about with an underlying belief in the abundance of time, wealth, and the beauty of community.

We ALLOW abundance in our lives by believing in it from the start. When our thoughts originate from a sense of abundance, we will automatically recognize it everywhere we look and in everything we feel.


Health Tip of the Month - Hemp Hearts

Bodhi Tree - Wednesday, July 02, 2014

by Corinne Ellams R.H.N. Holistic Nutritionist and yogini 

loveandlightnutrition.com


We add in more good things so we can drop off the foods that do not serve us. This month let’s add in one of my favorite foods - hemp.

The hempseed is a complete protein containing 36%- 45% protein, which means that per serving, hemp has more protein than meat. It’s amino acid content helps with muscle and bone growth, proper enzyme formation, detoxification and improving the immune system.

It also contains a proper balance of the essential fatty acids (EFA’s) that our body cannot produce. EFA’s are necessary for mental and visual functions as well as heart health. Hempseed’s EFA and protein profile provides a healthy alternative to fish which is becoming increasingly risky to eat due to radiation fallout and mercury and PCB contamination.

Hemp contains at least 20 major and trace minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and potassium. These minerals are necessary for all body functions. “Hemp also contains vitamin E which is essential for cardiovascular and brain health.

You can add raw organic hemp to your diet in many ways. Hemp seeds have a mild nutty flavor and pleasantly soft texture so can be eaten as a snack, sprinkled on salads, added into sauces or blended into a smoothie or salad dressing. They can be added to chocolates, cookies and crackers. Hemp powder is high in protein so add it to your morning smoothie. Hemp butter can be added to your toast, crackers, smoothie, sauces and salad dressing. I like to eat it out of the jar with a spoon! You can raw find raw organic hemp butter at Planet Organic. Hemp oil can be used as a supplement or in place of any oil in your recipes. I like to substitute 1/2 olive oil & 1/2 hemp oil. Hemp oil can also be used as a sun block or moisturizer. Find hemp oil in the retailer’s fridge. I get mine from Community Nature Foods. It is best to buy any liquid oil in a dark, glass bottle to prevent the oil from turning rancid. I love making my own hemp milk Hemp Goji Vanilla Milk and use it in place of dairy.


For optimum nutritional value, ensure the hemp or hemp product is raw and organic with no toxic additives.


Start adding this superfood into your diet today!


Imagine Nation

Bodhi Tree - Sunday, June 01, 2014

By Lisa Whitford, yoga teacher and wonderous new Momma!


Last week my 7 week old began to smile. Not the gassy “I just had a poop” kind, but a pure and curious smile that knows NO boundaries. When she sleeps she has dreams where she smiles, laughs, and talks (in her own language of course). This has gone on since the first few days she was born. My husband and I continue to wonder what she could possibly have to be dreaming about with her limited pool of experiences. 


When I watch her dreaming I can remember what it was like as a child to have such a wild imagination. It felt like anything was possible and everything was within reach! This seems to be our natural state of being as a child. Why does this change? I think this child like attitude is the secret the lies at the center of every yoga posture. Take Hanumanasa for example.


Hanuman is the Monkey god in the Epic Ramayana who accomplished many impossible tasks. He was the son of the wind , lord of the monkeys and Rama’s best friend. Hanuman knew no boundaries. He could easily fight an elephant for example, since he could become much bigger than the elephant at will. He tried to swallow the Sun as a child and as an adult helped Rama to rescue Sita by taking a mighty leap that stretched all the way from the south of India to the Himalayas. He had an incredible imagination.

Hanumanasana represents this giant leap. This pose asks you not merely to lengthen the hamstrings but to open your mind. . It seems as though it requires you to take a shape that (as one of my students once put it) is “beyond anything humanly possible “. As you practice this pose, notice the duality between your reach for the pose and the pains that may accompany your attempts. Then notice what happens when you imagine yourself in the posture with total ease... limitless, without boundaries...like Hanuman. Every breath you stay in the posture you release some of the strongholds in the mind, chipping away at these places in you that have hardened over time thus creating space for pure potential.


Obviously it takes strength and courage to overcome obstacles but imagining where you want to be is the first step. This will help you to transcend your current capacity and take you to a place otherwise impossible. As Albert Einstien once said “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. You could learn every detail possible about the anatomy of the posture but if you cannot imagine yourself in the pose you will never get there! Imagination always precedes transformation. Every important change you’ve made in your life, inner or outer, started with an act of imagination. If you want to see divine consciousnesses LOOK AROUND YOU! You can only bring to life what is first in your consciousness.


For me the beauty of the posture is the imprint it leaves behind. Once the intense fieriness fades you are left with the sense that you can be with what is and overcome any obstacles. The sense that anything is possible and everything is within reach! The posture is no longer a ego struggle within the body, but rather a joyous reminder that we can gracefully manifest what is in our consciousness. This is the most precious part of the practice itself. When we come to our mat, we have the time and space to connect with ourselves and check in to notice what we are thinking. We can notice the quality of our thoughts knowing that our life is simply a manifestation of them.


Health Tip of the Month - Hydration

Bodhi Tree - Sunday, June 01, 2014

by Corinne Ellams R.H.N. Holistic Nutritionist and yogini 

loveandlightnutrition.com


All systems in the body rely on water as it is needed for metabolism, brain function, elimination and absorption of nutrients. Water is the most important nutrient as the human body is 60 to 80% water.


To fuel these body systems and processes, we need to drink at least 8 cups of water per day. If you are a male, pregnant or breast feeding, exercise, sweat, are sick or take meds that dehydrate, you need to drink more than recommended. Dehydration is linked to a long list of chronic health problems - diabetes, arthritis, colitis, depression and kidney stones - to name a few. Some signs of dehydration include headaches, fatigue, dark yellow urine, heart rate increase, lightheadedness, muscle cramps and constipation.


As we move into summer and the temperature outside increases, make sure you are drinking enough water for proper hydration. You will know if you are drinking enough if your urine is a light yellow color or clear. Throughout the day you should pass about 6 cups of urine. As a guideline, aim to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol are diuretics which dehydrate you and prevent nourishing your body. Limit coffee, soft drinks, alcohol and fruit juices high in sugar. Add in extra water if you choose to have these products. To spruce up your water add fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs such as cucumber and mint or raspberries and a cinnamon stick. Here’s the recipe for a refreshing Antioxidant Cooler


Drinking organic coconut water is a great way to hydrate by re-vitalizing your cells and boosting your metabolism. It is the purest liquid, second only to water, and is a very important source of electrolytes, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and natural sugar. Coconut water, being almost identical to blood plasma, replaces the fluids and minerals that the body loses during physical activities. The best form of coconut water is from a fresh young Thai coconut. I often enjoy the fresh water from Thai coconuts obtained from Superstore or the T&T market.


Fruits and vegetables are a great source for hydration as well as numerous nutritional benefits. Include fruits like watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit and cantaloupe. Add in vegetables that hydrate such as cucumber, celery, lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, spinach, cauliflower and broccoli. Electrolytes from seaweed are another form of hydration. Add some kelp power to your water or munch on some dried kelp.


Pure water is the clear choice to keep you hydrated without adding empty calories to your diet. As some sources indicate there are over 2000 toxins present in our drinking water, I highly recommend drinking only spring or filtered water. Water - don’t leave home without it!


Health Tip of the Month - Bee Pollen

Bodhi Tree - Thursday, May 01, 2014

by Corinne Ellams R.H.N. Holistic Nutritionist and yogini 

loveandlightnutrition.com

Let’s get healthier by continuing to add in more of the good things so we can start dropping off the items that do not support nutrition.

This month let’s add in bee pollen - nature’s fountain of youth! Bee pollen is the male seed of a flower blossom which has been gathered by the bees. The bee pollen is the initial food for the larva and contains all the necessary supplements for life. This is why it is so often referred to as nature’s “perfect” food.

It’s considered a valuable weight-loss food! It rejuvenates the body, stimulates organs and glands, enhances vitality, and may counteract the effects of radiation and chemical pollutants. It provides anti- oxidants and has been proven to be quite useful for activity enhancement and sports nutrition. Bee pollen can improve fertility and reduce cholesterol levels. It also contains enzymes to aid in digestion and absorb nutrients, and it is good for the intestinal flora thereby supporting the immune system.

Bee pollen contains twice the amount of protein as beef (some sources say up to five or seven times), twice as much iron as any other food, and substantial amounts of highly- absorbable vitamins and minerals. In total, bee pollen contains approximately 96 essential elements for the body.

Start by adding 1/2 teaspoon per day and gradually increase to 2 teaspoons. It can be taken orally or with a drink of water or juice, mixed into smoothies, or sprinkled on cereal or salad. Do not heat your bee pollen, as nutritional value is lost. And for best results find a local source. I get mine at “The Beehive” in Kensington.


From Chaos to Creation

Bodhi Tree - Thursday, May 01, 2014

By Amy Thiessen, yoga teacher, singer songwriter, creative force

“Om Aim Saraswati-ya Aim Namaha"

In the beginning as Brahma created the universe there was only chaos.  From deep within he heard a voice telling him that wisdom would bring order and creation to this chaos.  In that moment his mouth opened wide and the magnificent goddess Saraswati emerged.  By way of thought, understanding, and communication, the goddess helped transform the chaos into creation. Her music soothed the cosmos and the universe took shape into form; the sun the moon, the planets, the stars, the oceans, and life. 

The goddess is depicted either riding a swan or seated on a lotus. She wears little adornment and dresses in white symbolizing the purist knowledge and discernment.  In her hands she carries; a veena (musical instrument) which represents the rhythm and expression of emotion through music; a book representing the Vedas and true knowledge of scriptures; a mala representing the power of meditation and spirituality; and a pot of water corresponding to her creative and purification powers.

We often see how wisdom brings order to chaos, but this story also demonstrates the potency of chaos itself. Often the most chaotic periods of our life are those that teach us some of our most fruitful lessons.  Chaos opens a door to a new perception or breaks down an old one.  On it’s own chaos would be inhabitable… however with the power of karma and applied knowledge (vijnana) it can instigate a deeper understanding of Self.  In this way we may appreciate chaos for it’s potency and power.

As we embrace this journey of self knowing Saraswati supports us and offers us tools to transform chaos into harmony. Music and chanting taps into our primordial essence, our truest feelings and intuition. Study of scripture and self or Svadhyaya  reminds us to reflect, to see ourselves honestly, and to look to scripture for guidance.  Our meditation and spirituality draws us home daily to ourselves.  Last, our creativity lends us tools to express those things that may be so difficult to articulate.  Communication and understanding channels the chaos into creation.

We do not exist without chaos. Chaos is necessary and unleashes potency and potential. The practice of yoga enables us to dance with chaos, to become wiser and truer to our selves. Saraswati supports this channelling of energy and exists within us as the strength and ability to do so.

You Are What You Have Been Looking For

Bodhi Tree - Tuesday, April 01, 2014
  • By Alice Hong, yoga teacher and cosmic dancer
  • “You are what you’ve been looking for.” 

    These words came through so clearly as the sun rose and warmed my face during a morning meditation.  It was like the punchline to a joke or the clue that solved a complex mystery. The voice had such presence that it startled my eyes wide open. Sitting on this rocky outcrop in Thailand, I was alone, and I felt so full. My eyes filled with the magnificence and glory of the rising sun, my skin tingled, and I felt a wave of ecstasy inside my body. I was enveloped by a feeling a deep peace, bliss, and relief. I found what I had been looking for all along - me. 

    Just a few months back, I had an experience on the other side of the spectrum. I woke up in a dark and dingy room in Ethiopia feeling utterly exhausted, depressed and uninspired. I could only feel the pain of loneliness, my broken heart and worn spirit. I had been traveling tirelessly around the the world and asked myself, “What is the point of all this? What is at the source of my restlessness? How do I fill this deep void inside?” 

    How is it that we can be riding the high waves of life and in a moment’s time, feel pulled in by a rip current? Shiva as depicted in the Shiva Nataraj, represents the dance of the human journey in the flames of life, known as the Tandava. In one hand he holds a drum symbolizing birth and creation, and in his opposite is a flame of destruction and death. One hand conceals his heart, which brings forth the feelings of pain and sadness that result when we hide from our own truth. This same hand points at his elegantly lifted foot, giving rise to the joy and delight when we feel when flowing with Grace. The dance is fiery and Shiva moves wildly with his dreadlocks whirling, remaining in the centre of the flames with a steady, graceful stance and soft, calm face. 

    Shiva reminds there will be ups and downs in our life and we need not be consumed by it all. As we practice yoga and bring more awareness into all that we do, we tap into the place of steadiness and joy inside. When we seek it from the external world, it is insatiable and unreliable because the dance inherently has its extremes. At our core, our perfection and wholeness is unshakable. You are the steady presence of awareness. You are love. You are bliss. You are Shiva. You are what you’ve been looking for. 


    Health Tip of the Month - Tumeric

    Bodhi Tree - Saturday, March 01, 2014

    by Corinne Ellams R.H.N. Holistic Nutritionist and Yogini 

    loveandlightnutrition.com


    Let’s get healthier by continuing to add in more of the good things so we start dropping off items that do not support nutrition. This month let’s add in turmeric - the miracle root! 


    It may be the most researched herb with over 600 potential health benefits so this makes it one of nature’s most powerful healers. Curcumin, the natural pigment is the active ingredient in turmeric that gives it a yellow color.


    Turmeric is known to support healthy bones, joints and overall skeletal system, maintain a healthy digestive system, lower bad cholesterol, purify the blood, promote radiant skin, aid in fat metabolism and weight management, and promote the immune system, healthy blood and liver function. 


    As well, this powerhouse is a natural antioxidant, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-septic and anti- carcinogenic. WOW!


    To get the most benefit from turmeric use 100% certified organic and avoid cooking it. Turmeric can be purchased as a powder or a whole root which needs to be peeled and grated. Add turmeric to smoothies, nut milks, juices, salad dressings, tea, egg salad, guacamole, sprinkle on sauces and my favorite - add to organic air popped corn.