Live Loca Resolution

For many, its ‘that time of year again’ .. yes, its New Year, and though many look forward to the New Year they dread the resolution part.

Why?

Well, resolutions, it seems, are broke before there’re even made.  And so guilt or remorse sets in, which creates a downward spiral of inadequacy and ‘starting the year on a sour note’.

Nonsense!  And have no fear .. because Wild Yogini is here.  I only said that because it rhymes   😀

So what is a resolution?  Glad you asked!  According to dictionary.com its “a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, a club, or other group.”

Alright .. but what about us individuals?

Its “a resolve or determination; the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose”.

At this, I know some of you are thinking about all those past New Year Resolutions that went belly up, but .. hey .. its all about intent!  Right?

Well, I don’t mean to be the New Year party poop here but .. err .. no, good intentions are not good enough!

Why?

Well, imagine you and five friends sitting about a table, chatting, laughing, having a good time.  One of you says, “I want to go to Costa Rica.”  Another chimes in with, “So do I!”  Then a third with, “Me too!”  so the conversation turns to the trip .. planning, organizing, best dates.  How very exciting .. Costa Rica .. beach, rain forest, eco-wilderness, Yoga, loads of fruits, and basking in the constant 72d weather.  Ahhhh!

So how many of you and the five friends go?

None.  Zero.  Zip.  You get the picture.  Intent and intention are not the same as commit and commitment.

So what’s it going to be this year: A New Years Intention or a New Years Commitment?  I mean, honestly, we can resolve to do something, be determined to do something, be firm in our purpose to do something, but do we actually do that thingamajig?

Ah .. therein is the difference between intention and commitment!

I think the primary reason why so many New Year Resolutions fail is due to lack of research.  Yes .. research.  After all, to go anywhere – heck, to even be spontaneous – it takes a degree of research and planning.  For example, I love being spontaneous, but that spontaneity also depends on where I find myself.  And with a little bit of knowing where I’m going, I can be even more spontaneous!

I rarely make New Year Resolutions.  In fact, I can count on one finger the times I have.  Which is why this year is momentous .. because I’ve been researching a resolution.

First, the reason I don’t make New Year Resolutions is because I can resolve myself to do anything I want on any day of the year.  I can make a resolution 365 times if I want to!  So saving up for just once a year seems sort of .. well, sort of lame actually.  Honestly, think about it: Do you only resolve to do something once a year?  No, not at all.  In fact, we make resolutions every day; for example: we resolve to get out of bed, we resolve to go to work, we resolve to eat breakfast or not, we resolve to be happy or grumpy; and so it goes.

Yea, yea .. New Year Resolutions are supposed to be big resolves .. but, it doesn’t always work out that way .. does it?  Which is where I started this blog entry .. about making a resolution, not following through on it, then feeling like twaddle for it.

So if you really, Really, REAL-ly want to resolve yourself to change, then look into it first.  See if it fits into your schedule.  See if its something you can do every day.  See if you know someone(s) who will support you when feeling less resolved.  In essence .. don’t set yourself up for failure before you’ve even begun!

Now to my resolution: I’ve been looking into this, and for the last year have been making steps in this direction, so feel fairly confident I can manage this.  I’ve resolved myself to only eat Georgia grown / produced food for a month.

-Looking into it:  I’ve checked to see the local crops available this time of year, and the local providers, so feel confident that there is plenty of both food and variety for me to do this for 30 days.

-Making steps in this direction:  I’ve been working on the 100 Thing Challenge for about a year.  Which doesn’t mean I only live off of 100 things (though, in truth, I’m pretty darn close), just that I’ve been gearing my thinking in that direction.

-Feel fairly confident: I’ve been focusing on sustainable living for more than a few years, and since I started looking at the “reduce, refuse, rejigger” mentality, have been even more keen on what that means on a daily basis.

So with these three under my belt, I feel ready to live solely on Georgia grown fruits and veggies for 30 days.

Will it be a challenge?  I’ sure! .. but isn’t that part of the fun of a resolution .. testing your will?  Or at least, it is for me.  And I do love a challenge!

Mind you, part of this resolution involves not wasting what I have, which includes using the produce already in my refrigerator.  As a Live Vegan I shop weekly, so have a few newly purchased items, plus a few left over pieces, but will be mostly starting from scratch tomorrow .. January 1st.

I’m looking forward to it, because it’s an opportunity to apply the research I’ve already done in the sustainable living area, to experience what it means to truly live locally, to journey towards a way of thinking and being that I’ve never explored before.

Resolve Deliberately!

Yogini Valarie Devi

Live Chocolate Almond Milk

There are a few ways to enjoy this dreamy, creamy classic.  There is a basic recipe, then some fun variations, and then a truly splendid version for a special evening.  All of them are delicious!

STEP ONE: Make Almond Milk

-1 cup soaked almonds. Place them in a bowl, cover with pure water and let soak overnight. I do this before I go to bed at night.  The nutrients in almonds are more easily absorbed after soaking, so to get the best benefit from them, soak before eating.

-3-4 cups of pure water

3-8 dates, optional. Dates make a great sweetener for almond milk, and have an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

After the almonds have soaked, drain and place in a blender with the 3-4 cups of pure water (thin or thick milk, personal preference), and the dates.

Blend on high for about two minutes. Strain the mix to remove the almond granules (some people like to keep this because its a great addition to .. cookie or bread recipes, for example).

You can make larger batches because it stores well .. for at least 4-5 days in the frig, in an air-tight container.

OR: Use store bought Almond Milk

EASY ALMOND MILK:

-2 cups Almond Milk

-1/4 cup raw cacao nibs

Blend until smooth .. enjoy!

A VARIATION:

To the above, add a ½ cup of live young coconut, or a ¼ cup of dried/shredded.  Blend and enjoy!

ANOTHER VARIATION (one of my favs!):

-2 cups Almond Milk

-2 Tbs raw cacao nibs

-1 tsp maca powder (or 1 Tbs goji berries)

Blend and enjoy!

Now, this next one involves an ingredient that you may not have access to.  Being close to Atlanta, GA, Ive found it at Sevananda .. what Im referring to is cacao butter.

WARM ALMOND CACAO MILK

-2 cups Almond Milk

-2 inch square of cacao butter (also spelled ‘cocoa)

-1 tsp royal honey, or 1 Tbs sweetener of your choice

Optional: 2 Tbs raw cacao nibs (this recipe is wonderful with jus the three ingredients; the addition of raw cacao nibs makes it rich.)

Blend all until smooth .. then heat.  As a Live Vegan I put this in the dehydrator at 110 for an hour, but this can be heated on the stove .. on a low flame, just until the cacao butter is melted and blended.  Do not boil .. cacao butter has a low melting point so it does’nt take much heat!  This recipe is warm and comforting, so put on some fuzzy slippers, curl up with a book under your favorite blanket, and sip yourself into heavenly bliss!

Eat Well, Be Well!

Yogini Valarie

Not Wild on Soy

Someone suggested that I add “Tofu Thursday” to my weekly reminders. Already, I remind my facebook friendsies about: Meatless Monday, Wheatless Wednesday and Fruity Friday.

Im not a fan of soy (which tofu is made from). When I do eat soy (rarely), its either in the form of tempeh or natto – both are fermented and so better for one.

However, I rarely eat these even because soy is one of the most heavily pesticide/chemically laden crops, and is a major GMO crop. (The other major pesticide/GMO are corn, wheat and canola – which are found in virtually everything at the grocery).

Additionally, even if one uses organic soy, it is far too heavily relied upon in the American Vegetarian diet (based on my experience with Vegetarian/Vegan friends).

Finally, soy’s benefits are questionable.

Soybeans contain a large amount of phytochemicals, which are fond in all plants, but in soy, the primary component is isoflavones, which have found great success in cancer prevention, the relief of certain menopausal symptoms, the reduction of heart disease, and the  slowing and/or reversing of osteoporosis.  However .. this is ONLY AFTER fermentation, and in the case of tofu, EXTENSIVE PROCESSING – which uses chemicals at high temperatures to make the bean actually digestible.

Another added element to soy is phytic acid, which all beans contain, but in soy, again, is found in large amounts.  Phytic acid blocks the absorption of key minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc); so that health studies in countries where soy is eaten daily show a deficit of these minerals in people (compromising their health).  These findings, in part, have contributed to the reason why soy is NOT recommended as infant formula.

Soy also contains enzyme inhibitors, which the body needs for digestion, so that soy is often considered an ANTI-nutrient. In fact, many cannot eat soy because of this .. for it causes gastric distress, deficiencies in amino acid uptake, and reduced digestion of ALL proteins.  I’ve seen many Vegetarian websites that suggest microwaving soy before eating – don’t get me started on the dangers of microwaves!

Soy also contains hemagglutinin, which is a a clot promoting substance that prompts red blood cells to clump/clot together. This is important because this means soy prevents blood cells from properly absorbing oxygen – which must be distributed to the body’s tissues – so necessary for overall heart health, and the prevention of cancer (cancer cannot survive in an oxygen rich environment).

Then .. even if one’s soy is organic, it is still probably a GMO; because 90% of the American soy crop is.  So yes .. GMO can be grown organically, but it still makes them GMOs.

Finally, and again, far too many rely on soy as the “necessary protein”.  First, the amount of protein needed in the daily diet is SERIOUSLY OVER ESTIMATED.  Secondly, fruits and vegetables contain protein, so if one is eating these, they are getting enough protein. Third, soy is marketed by the FDA as a ‘wonder food’ .. not because of its health benefits but because its cheap to grow, easy to Genetically Modify, virtually thrives on pesticides, is a great filler ‘food’, and can be fed to both humans and livestock. So for them, its a win-win situation.

For more info, to include the latest medical studies, read the RISKS of soy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soybean#Health_risks

Notable concerns here are increased tumor growth in breast cancer in women, and lowered testosterone levels in men, and a correlation to prostate cancer.

So .. for these reasons (and more than I can list here), I do not endorse soy products on a regular basis.  I think miso is a good food additive for its saltiness, but prefer seaweed overall.  Natto is an excellent source of Vitamin K, but is also found in avocados, cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach.  So when it comes down to the bottom line, I don’t need to eat soy, and you probable don’t either.

Shanti and Metta!

Yogini Valarie Devi

Live Fast, Day Six – Wild Yogi’s Fast

Why do I fast?

As a Yogini I have ample reasons for fasting .. some of them thousands of years old, so complete with sound advice and experience.  Over the years, however, I have discerned my own reasons.

Yoga is a discipline, and at my level, one akin to shamanism; as such, it requires mindful deeds that must be accomplished on a regular basis and during certain times.  One such example is to remove one’s self from the physical constraints of daily living, to better maintain balance between the ‘three worlds’ (Gunas. Sanskrit, “strands; qualities”).  In that fasting – as a mystical-spiritual practice – alters the practitioner’s biology, psychology and metaphysicality, it is an excellent means of acquiring centeredness or balance.

Simply: Fasting changes the polarity of the physical body while raising its energetic vibrations, which has the effect of sensitizing the Yogi to the primal tunes of prakriti (“primary matter; nature).  From a physical perspective this means the autonomic nervous system becomes a honed edge, making it a sharp receptor for receiving psychic impressions which are mostly overlooked by those who do not engage in such practices.

From a psychologically position fasting creates an elevation of consciousness, encouraging it towards expansion, so that any practice carried out at this time – mantra, mudra and bandha (for example) – turns the subconscious response towards the internal wind (prana).  Fasting is more than abstaining from food, but a means of inner navigation, where the body and mind become orientated towards spirit and the messages received from divine communications.

Toxins reside in the body’s fat stores, so when the Yogi fasts, becoming cleansed of those toxins, it makes way for the attraction of higher spiritual vibrations; which normally, by their frequency, steer clear of such noxious effluvia.

So when the body no longer receives nourishment from food it seeks out other routes, from rivulets small (nadis), yet which led to greater seas (chakras).  As a Yogi’s practice, fasting offers restraint from the fetters of pravritti marga (“path” of worldly desire and ambition), to better walk the path towards introspection and renunciation (nivritti).

Shanti and Metta!

Yogini Valarie Devi

Live Fast, Day Five – Why Fast?

Why do we fast?

There are many reason why one would fast.  Akin to becoming a vegetarian or vegan, the reasons may be ethical, environmental, religious, spiritual, economic, cultural, or for health.

Fasting is integral to all the major religions and several lesser known ones; such as, Hinduism and Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, Judaism and Christianity, Islam and Baha’i Faith, Rastafari’s and many tribal folkways all fast.

And they all fast for different reasons – from non-violence to reciprocity, from compassion to animism, from politics to the development of negative traits, and from the enhancement of mystic awareness to vibrancy.  Nor are any of these new ideas, for the Classical Greeks and Romans fasted for health, longevity, and harmony with nature.  Finally, among many American fasters, the two most commonly cited reasons are detoxification and healing.

In any event, a true fast begins after the 12 to 24 hour mark, and from a chemical perspective, not until the body’s carbohydrate stores are accessed for energy.  (One never wants to tap into the body’s protein stores, for this is the beginning of starvation.)  Other true fasting indicators are (generally in order):

-Reduction in body temperature (due to a slowed metabolic rate, reduced function in the digestive and other systems);

-A drop in blood sugar, which prompts the use of glucose reserves (found in liver glycogen); and

-Reduction of the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which conserves the body’s energy levels.

After these have occurred the Human Growth Hormones (HGH) and the Anti-Aging Hormones (AAH) are released, prompting a greater efficiency in overall hormone production.

So that, fasting – for whatever reason (environmental, ethic, religious, et all) – is a proven means of body and mind rejuvenation and extended life expectancy.  It is the best way to rid the body of toxins that have accumulated over the years in the fat stores (all the more reason not to be overweight – toxins cling to fat!); and fasting allows the body to heal – to repair even damaged organs.

Shanti and Metta!

Yogini Valarie Devi

Live Fast, Day Four – Are you feeling ill?

For those new to fasting, getting sick is relatively common; yet, so infrequent, that it’s rarely mentioned in fasting information.

So what would make one sick during a fast?

Simple: The cleansing crisis.

When one stops eating the body begins to change within hours (many have no doubt noticed this when a long time has occurred between meals).  When on stops eating for 24 hours the body begins to eliminate toxins, which is the beginning of the cleansing crisis.

The symptoms of a cleansing crisis vary, but generally include headache and dizziness, shortness of breath, feeling tired or ‘crabby’, or general aches and pain is if one is on the verge of a cold.  Again, among those new to fasting, this is relatively common.

The best way to start fasting is for a 24 hour period.  Some religious and spiritual groups will fast from “sunset to sunset”, for example.  If one has never fasted before, going more than three days is never recommended; and for some new fasters, two days is pushing their limit.

Think: ‘too much, too soon’, or that one’s body is not yet ready or familiar with such a drastic change.  The occasional faster may or may not have similar issues, and the expert faster, never.  It all has to do with experience, both body experience and mind experience.

If a newbie starts with a 24 hour fast, this gently introduces the idea of fasting to the body and mind.  After doing several 24 hour fasts (and I recommend two 24 hour fasts a month), then the newbie can start branching out .. say, 36 hours, then 48 hours, and the like.

Other than experience, another reason those new to fasting may start to feel ill or get sick is hydration.  It is important to not just fast on juice, for example, but to make sure one is fully hydrated; and if on a water only fast, to add some electrolytes to the water, by way of lemon or lime juice.

Another reason may be how the juice (or water) is drunk.  Most of those new to fasting will simply drink their juice, mostly because they are hungry so want to get rid of the hunger pangs quickly.  Drinking too quickly can unsettle the stomach, making one feel ill, but it will also make one feel hungry sooner.

In a juice fast, for example, it is very important that one CHEWS their juice.  This simply means to swish it around in the mouth for 15-30 seconds.  Not only does this activate the digestive fluids (saliva is a digestive fluid), but it helps the juice ‘sit’ better on the stomach.  It also has the added benefit of making one feel fuller for longer.

Remember, the cleansing crisis is a time of detoxification, which means the body is working to get rid of all the unhealthy toxins.  It is best to be patient during a cleansing crisis, which is why mindful activities and deep breathing exercises are often recommended.  Both are especially helpful during this time.

Think of one’s self as a drug addict – addicted to the chemicals found in processed foods.  So like any junkie, when the ‘drug’ is removed, the body experiences withdrawal.  And like a junkie, realize that this time – though uncomfortable – is necessary to reach the ‘other side’ of wellness, and non-addiction.

Yet another consideration is that most newbies to fasting are not attuned to their body, so following a menu that may include fruits and veggies unfamiliar to their body may trigger an immunity compromise – so juice what is familiar to you!  Couple that with not being attuned to the warning messages their body receives, and they get sick.

Those who have fasted a few times – the occasional faster – has more experience with what fruits and veggies work best for their body; likewise, the physical and mental messages their body and mind are sending.  This makes them better equipped to Adapt, Adjust and Accomidate for their unique needs.

Whereas expert fasters .. well, speaking for myself:  I give fasting little to no thought because I’ve been fasting for many years, with many different approaches.  Couple this with mindful living and it allows me to put my attention where it should be during a fast .. on spiritual matters.

So what should the newbie faster do if they start getting sick?

Gently break the fast by introducing healing foods.  One good example is miso soup – the Vegan’s version of chicken soup – with minced veggies added in, such as carrot or ginger.  After this, another gentle healing meal is brown rice with steamed vegetables and any one or combination of these healing herbs (to personal tastes):

-Cinnamon (and/or sticks)

-Chilli

-Cloves

-Curry Leaves,

-Bay leaves

-Turmeric (powder or root)

-Asafoetida

-Fenugreek

-Peppercorns

-Onion

-Ginger.

In all – the combination of miso soup, then rice with veggies and spice – will ease the newbie faster back to health by being gentle on their digestive system, while nurturing the immune systems return to a higher level.

Another thing that must be considered is physical activity.  Many new to fasting carry on business-as-usual, to often include their usual aerobics class or morning run.  It is important that during a fast, one settles into a calming routine, one filled with stillness and reflection.  Overtaxing the body when the blood sugar and other levels are lowered is simply not a good idea; and the definition of ‘overtaxing’ is most forms of exercise.

With the exception of Healing/Chikitsa Yoga.

Some 15 years ago I designed a Yoga class specifically for those who are ill or injured, who are fasting, and/or in need of healing.  It is an internal energy routine that realigns the body’s energy centers (chakras and nadis / meridians), awhile assisting the body in what it does best – heal itself.

You see, fasting – akin to healing – is never a single activity.  One must be proactive in the healing process, to begin with understanding how one’s body works, how one’s mind functions, and the nature of one’s spirit.

So too much physical activity for newbies and occasional fasters can have an adverse affect because, when fasting, not only does the body’s energy level drop – making it an excellent time to focus on spiritual matters – but the blood pressure and body temperature drop.

Regarding body temperature (most who fast, at every level) experience a drop in body temperature; which is yet another reason for deep breathing while fasting – especially Yoga Breathing.  And for blood pressure drops, keeping exercise light and easy assures one will not get dizzy or otherwise feeling light-headed.

From all this, it can be seen why all fasting information comes with a disclaimer that one should ‘ask your physician’ before beginning.  In lieu of that – and only if one is attuned to the processes of their body and mind – fasting is a safe and effective means of health management.

In all you do .. Be Well!

Shanit and Metta ..

Yogini Valarie Devi

Live Fast, Day Three – Emotions

When we think about ‘fasting’ we think about food – mainly, going without.   Yet fasting is far more than abstinence from food, for it also involves the mind; and the mind has two aspects – emotions and intellect.

When fasting – either on water alone, or juice alone, or even if one only eats fruits and veggies (abstaining from grains, dairy and the like) – one may experience an emotional flux, a roller coaster of highs and lows, from tears to laughter.  This is the mind cleansing its self.  Just as the body rids its self of toxins, the mind rids its self of dross.

Initially the body’s white blood cells (the lymphocytes) do their job by seeking out and eliminating toxic residues, allowing the body to be rid of carcinogenic pollutants.   This is why, the longer one fasts, the better one feels.

What this means is .. when the toxic residues enter the blood stream they create a body and mind situation that often manifests as dizziness and weakness, headaches and nausea, vague discomfort and isolated pain.  This is akin to when a runner hits the wall (glycogen depletion).

The faster’s wall must be broke through – even when the hunger pangs feel unbearable, or when one’s initial enthusiasm turns to reluctance to continue.  In this difficult moment (and truly, it is but momentary), consider that your body is dumping all the toxins it encounters on a daily basis.   From:

-Mold and Fungus, found in every home, as well as peanuts, wheat, corn and alcoholic drinks; putting one at risk for asthma, diabetes, heart disease and multiple sclerosis.

-Phthalates, found in anything that contains ‘fragrance’, from soap to shampoo to deodorant, and the plastic containers they come in.  They are also found in plastic sandwich bags, plastic wrap, and plastic storage containers, so that it will leach into food.  These chemicals attack the endocrine system because they mimic hormones.

-PCBs, an industrial chemical found in farm-raised salmon, putting one at risk of cancer and impaired brain function.

-Pesticides are carcinogenic, and their residue is found on 50-95% of the produce one eats.  Pesticides put one at risk of miscarriage and birth defects, Parkinson’s disease and cancer, and even if one tries to eat healthy, pesticides block the body from absorbing nutrients.

-Heavy Metals like aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury are found in drinking water and fish, antiperspirants and pesticides, dental fillings and building materials, and vaccines.   Heavy Metals accumulate in the body’s soft tissues put one at risk of arthritis and neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s and decreased memory capacity, abnormal heart rhythm and damaged blood vessels, nausea and vomiting.

-Dioxins are found in animal fat.  In fact, 95% of the average persons exposure comes from eating meat.  Dioxins affect reproduction and developmental disorders, prompt skin rashes and acne-like lesions, and cause liver damage.

-Chlorine is found in most household cleaners, in tap water, in paper (books and the like), and in industrial environments (in the office).  Chlorine is highly toxic and will cause skin and eye irritation, sore throat and coughing, narrowed bronchi and wheezing, fluid retention in the lungs and asthma.

-VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are found in drinking water and air fresheners, household cleansing products and cosmetics, deodorants and dry cleaning chemicals, moth repellants and varnishes.  VOCs put one at risk of cancer, headaches and memory impairment, eye and lung irritation, and dizziness.

And the list goes one .. sulphates and parabens, PCBs and formaldehyde, to Big Macs and fries, to chocolate bars and sodas .. in virtually everything you eat, drink or have in your home .. these environmental toxins can be flushed out during fasting.  But one must endure past the faster’s wall, equally as one fasts on a regular basis (twice a month, for one day, for example), and actively seek to clean the home, and over all exposure to toxins.

Endurance is the key .. and as any endurance runner will tell you, ‘easier said than done’.  Yet, this endurance is what will see you through the fasting crisis to the healing process.

So what are the emotional effects of a fast?  Well, just as toxins rise to the surface and are expelled through the bodies natural elimination process, so too may one experience the rise of anger, disgust, fear or sadness.  However, emotions are not so easily expelled, for they must be recognized, analyzed, and cast off in an actively conscious manner.  And in doing so, one’s Will Power is discovered, and/or bolstered.

Two of the most common emotions that occur during fasting are sadness and anger.  Regarding the latter, anger is unfulfilled expectation, so first, one must recognize the anger, then analyze the unfulfilled expectation.  For example, when one truly knows that anger turns every mole hill into a mountain, then one is better able to not turn someone else’s anger into their own.  In no way does this mean to ‘turn the other cheek’, or to otherwise render one defenseless, for one is still able to communicate their position, and defend themselves where need be, but in a non-angry, non-violent manner (this is the true meaning of ahimsa).  Finally, the best way to cast off anger is through laughter, love and wonder.

In all, mastering the body is simple .. mastering the emotions – one’s words and deeds – is difficult.  So never suppress the emotions, for they must be allowed sufficient expression for their root to be discovered, then analyzed, and finally cast off.

Fasting is a time of inner discovery, so slow down and appreciate the moment.  We are more than the body, so allow yourself to not just consider that, but to honor that.  Fasting is not about going without, but about opening within.

 

Shanti and Metta!

Yogini Valarie Devi

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