Fermented Foods: Supporting the System Naturally

This past fall I took a class on pickling and fermentation. While I have been a long time consumer of fermented foods, I had forgotten their phenomenal health benefits. Fermented foods are helpful in supporting any number of gut related issues and help to restore natural bacteria to the system that often get depleted through our consumption of pre-prepared foods. What struck me most about this class was how easy it was to make your own fermented veggies at home. I have since started several batches of ferments and look forward to enjoying them and exploring new recipes. I have included a very simple Mason Jar Sauerkraut recipe below (courtesy of Seattle Tilth Association). Enjoy!!

 Ingredients
5-6 lbs. green head cabbage
3 Tbsp. salt

Preparation
Wash hands throughly! Then wash cabbage (you can substitute other vegetables for 1-2 lbs, including carrots, beets, turnips, hearty greens) and pull off and save 1-2 whole leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters, removing the core. Finely shred the cabbage into a large bowl. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp. salt over cabbage.

Using very clean hands, massage the salt into the cabbage. Use a good amount of pressure. The goal is to break down the structure of the cabbage and release a lot of the juices. When the cabbage is soft and a fair amount of liquid has been released, pack it tightly into 2-3 quarter sized mason jars. Pack about 1-2 inches at a time to ensure the jar is packed firmly. Liquid should start to rise to the top. Any leftover liquid at the bottom of the bowl can be poured in to top of the jars.

Take the whole cabbage leaves reserved from the beginning, and tear them to fit into the jar on top of the packed cabbage. The goal is use the cabbage leaf to keep all the shredded bits submerged under water.

Find something to weigh down the cabbage flat. You can use a pint class filled with water or any other item that will hep keep the sauerkraut below the water line. Put your jars on a dish to catch any liquid that bubbles up.

Wait, in warm weather it may take a week, in cooler weather even longer. If you start to see a white colored scum, take off your weight and flap, skim off any scum you see. Rinse the cabbage flap and weight and replace them. Start tasting your sauerkraut after about a week. When it tastes tangy and delicious, refrigerate to halt fermentation.

Gone

As we approached the Spring Equinox, my yoga classes had a focus on letting go, releasing what no longer served and surrendering into what is. This can be an easy process at times, and other times one of the most difficult things we’ve ever been asked to do.  Yet, even in these most difficult moments, we rarely are letting go of things that are that big–they just seem large at that time while our ego is wrapped up in dealing with its attachment to it.

Every once in a while those things are big. I listened to Radiolab Podcast last night (one of my favorite radio programs) that was a short offering prose by Mark Doty who chronicled the loss of his life partner. As I walked home, listening to the podcast, I found myself in tears…probably much to the surprise of passersby. Not only is his story truly moving, but his willingness to let go into the reality of the situation is so inspiring and his ability to love and share love is truly moving.

If you have ten minuets, I highly recommend a listen. I hope it inspires you to let the things in your life that are ready to die, be released with love, so that the things that are ready to live have space to live!

Happy Equinox!

http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2009/aug/11/13-gone/

Accepting What Is

“You are having a human experience, and part of that is experiencing the boundaries and limitations in a physical form rather than flying above it.”
– Niki Scully & Linda Star Wolf , Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt

I came to yoga in college as a runner. Thanks to genetics, I found myself to be naturally inflexible and the long distance running I did in college did little to help tight hamstrings, calves and quads. Initially, yoga was a way for me to find some more ease in my body, but eventually it became more. As my yoga practice deepened I found myself exploring poses I never thought possible and exploring the philosophical and spiritual sides of yoga on a much deeper level.

Yet through all of this deeper knowledge and exploration, I was still struggling with myself on a most basic and fundamental level. I wanted my body to do more than what it was currently capable of. I was never happy with what was, and had trouble acknowledging the advances I had made. I would see pictures in Yoga Journal and envy the women in these beautiful forward folds with their heads resting on their knees and their wrists wrapped effortlessly around their feet. For years I pushed up against my edge, and sometimes beyond it, thinking that if I could just somehow do MORE, I would be able to get there.

About three weeks ago, after struggling with an injury that wouldn’t heal, I went to see a Physical Therapist. I laid out for her my “story” as I had always known it, I was inflexible and had trouble with forward folds. She spent about 10 minutes assessing my body and as soon as she reached my hips she exclaimed “You have such a big pelvis!”.  I had already known that my pelvis and my rib cage were very close together, but being a small lady, had always assumed it was because I had a short torso. No, she assured me, somewhat surprised “You have a really tall pelvis. No wonder you have trouble with forward folds! You’re trying to bend over this tall pelvis and you have just that much further to go.”
It was as if this weight I had been carrying for years (and I mean YEARS! I remember being in elementary school and failing the “fitness tests” that measured your flexibility through your ability to fold forward over a box that would measure your relative flexibility) had been suddenly lifted! You would think, as a yoga teacher and a long time student of yoga I would get this, but it felt so new to me. My body would only go so far because that’s all it could do, my bones would never allow me to go any further…and that felt so freeing! I was doing my perfect version of a forward fold and there was such a sweetness in letting go of the struggle around that and surrendering into the acceptance of the sweetness of my own body’s perfection.

As a teacher, I am privileged to stand as witness for so many people in these same journeys in their own lives and yoga practices. What has your journey been like in accepting your body as it is, in its own glorious perfection? I would love to hear your stories!

The Energy of the Heart

During many workshops I teach, we explore the power of sound and its impact on the physical and energetic body. For many students, this is their first exploration into the world of sound and energy, and many find it to be a very positive experience. In the workshops we do a practice toning through each of the chakras, activating the energy along the central channel, the sushumna.  Students were surprised at the effect on their mood, energy level and overall sense of relaxation.  It is exciting to watch people exploring, for the first time, tools that I have had the joy of working with for many years. During these practices, I often assess my own energetic state. The place I most regular feel the largest amount of shift is in the heart center. It seems, for me, that much of this work was an invitation to open the heart.

Recently, I was listening to a talk given by Tom Kenyon, a master sound healer and someone I have studied quiet extensively.  He was discussing the heart and the electromagnetic field it creates, a field that generates a frequency up to 5000% more electromagnetic energy than the brain.  He went on to describe the the double torus (donut-shaped) field that electromagnetic field of the heart creates.  The remainder of the talk went on to discuss the power of the heart in our own healing and the ability of sound to be a gateway to open up to this energy.

Shown above is a picture of the double torus of the electromagnetic field of the heart.  When I first saw this picture I was blown away, as it matches very similarly the view of the energetic system with the sushumna and the chakras in the central channel feeding the energy of the body. It was exciting to see what we study in yoga, sound and energy healing all coming into alignment with studies in science and the medical fields.

I look forward to continuing to explore the power of sound and yoga as a way to unlock the underlying energy of the physical body. Join me for some heart-expanding classes this summer!