Meatless Monday Mardi Gras

Rockn’ the Mardi Gras food this week:

 

Louisiana Citrus Crepes

Morel Mushroom Po Boys

Spicy Pilaf with Cajun Chickpeas

Roasted Okra Creole!

 

Laissez le Bon temp rouler!

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Yoga Shala on Facebook

Jai Bhang!

Bhang is a delightful drink that I enjoyed while in India.  It is a combination of ganja, almonds, spices and sugar.  It is traditionally drank during March and April to celebrate Holi and Vaisakhi, which mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Drinking bhang is also a way to honor Shiva – the Auspicious One, Lord of Deep Mind.

Drinking and eating bhang (bhang golis, ‘balls’) is not considered the consumption of a drug but a medicine.  In Ayurveda – India’s ancient healing science – cannabis is used to treat vomiting, intestinal parasites, hemorrhage, diarrhea and dysentery, to promote sleep, increase appetite, as a digestive aid, relieve pain, and as an overall means of restoring health.

The use of cannabis is also detailed by Shen Nung – the Emperor of the Five Grains, the Divine Farmer – who described its medicinal uses 5,000 years ago.  Today, cannabis is still found in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM; prescribed for the same conditions as outlined in Ayurveda), and commonly mixed with ginseng, or a combination of poppy, cannabis and ephedra.

Other ancient cultures that recognized cannabis as medicinal include:

-pre-Christian Northern Europe, where it was associated with Freya, Lady of Fertility and shamanic arts;

-several notable Rabbis identify cannabis as one of the ingredients in Shemen Ha’Mishchah, the “holy anointing oil” mentioned in Exodus 30:22-25;

-the Sufi use of cannabis has been mentioned as early as the 13th century;

-and Galen and Pliny, ancient Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers, both prescribed cannabis, again for the same reasons as ancient Ayurveda.  Likewise, it was used to treat nosebleeds, cleanse wounds, treat inflammation of the joints, cure ear infections, and in steam baths to detoxify.

Today, the use of cannabis – even as a proven medicine with a well established history – is either illegal or frowned upon.  For whatever reason one may choose to use cannabis – to clear phlegm and mucus, in the treatment of cancer, to relax the ADHD mind or prevent the acceleration of Alzheimer plaques, to stop or slow the spread of breast cancer, to promote the death of brain cancer cells, or simply enjoy a calm mind freed from distraction – remember that all such green growing things are sacred to Earth equally as they are beneficial to our bodymind.

A recipe for Bhang

2 cups water

1 ounce cannabis (as with all green plants, fresh is best)

4 cups almond nutmilk (room temperature)

2 tablespoons almonds, chopped

1/8 teaspoon garam masala (a mix of cloves, cinnamon and cardamom)

1” piece ginger root, squeezed for its juice

1 teaspoon rosewater

3/4 to 1 cup sweetener (to taste)

Remove seeds and stems from cannabis, place in a teapot.

Boil water, then pour over cannabis leaves.

Let steep for 1 hour.

Strain the tea.  Mix the cannabis leaves with 2-3 teaspoons of almond nutmilk, mix in a blender –

add more nutmilk as needed to create a wet pulp.

Add the chopped almonds and more almond nutmilk, blend well.

You can either sieve this of the heavier ingredients (leaves and nuts),

or leave as is (to taste).

Add this mix to the remaining nutmilk,

then add the remaining ingredients – blend well.

The bhang is ready to drink.  It can be enjoyed as is, or warmed, or chilled.

Enjoy!

Namaste and Peace Out!

Yoginiji

~ ~ ~

Thank you Cannabis Culture for the photo!

Natural or Chemical?

I shared this link on my facebook wall.

 

I then included this quote from the article:

“Are we in danger of seeing boyhood itself as a disorder?”

 

The comments that followed were notable in that they came primarily from individuals who either work within the pharmaceutical business, or otherwise support it exclusively.

 

One of these comments was from a mother addressing her son; where she commented that though she had medicated her (now grown son), she was only following conventional wisdom of the day.

 

Personally, my parents too did things that they now look back on and wonder, ‘What was I thinking’.   And recently, this was part of a conversation I had with my father (who is 79); I told him, “You did what was best at the time, coupled with your own knowledge at the time.  Don’t fault yourself for that, because I certainly don’t.”

 

My father has long been physically aware (first as a kid, then in the military), so has been a lifelong commitment for him.   Today he is strong, healthy, and mentally alert.   He eats right, exercises daily, is not on medication, and continues to follow the latest natural health news.

 

And that is a field that one must constantly stay informed on, for it’s a rapidly changing area of knowledge.

 

But the topic here became – at its most basic – chemical versus natural means of healing.

 

Living as I do, and associating with those who share the natural lifestyle, I have seen the benefits of eating and drinking organic food and pure water, coupled with mindful awareness; and I have witnessed firsthand how this way of living has reversed even stage four cancer.  Does this mean a healthy lifestyle will work for everyone?  Sadly, ‘no’.  Does it mean chemicals work for everyone?  Again, the answer is ‘No’.

 

But why is that?

 

Well, the challenge here is that healing (like living) is not a singular event, but best approached holistically.   Chemical applications address the symptoms not the cause, and they do that on only one level.   The body is not a singular / stand alone entity that exists in a vacuum; the factors that contribute towards overall health can be as subtle as the shampoo one uses, or the products used to clean house.

 

Therein lies the challenge for many who look to alternative means of healing:  Upon first glance, the extent of changes that need be made is overwhelming.   The second thought is then ‘giving up’ what one has become accustomed to.

 

In truth, the ‘forfeiture’ that many focus on is simply a matter of returning to their natural state of being; for we have been sold on the idea that chemicals – from body soap to air freshener – are necessary to make our life somehow better or more convenient.   In truth, research often links such things as contributing factors to disease.   As such, ingesting a daily pill / chemical makes for a quick and easy fix.

 

Then there is the entire matter of self-responsibility to consider.   For many, relegating health care to someone outside of themselves is easy because then they don’t have to think about it.   (I cannot even begin to relate the number of individuals who I have met who won’t even get a medical checkup because they simply ‘don’t want to know’.)

 

Dr. Andrew Weil thinks a healthy balance can be had between the two worlds – and he is working towards creating the next generation of physicians who will work equally within both schools of thought.

 

Meanwhile, the majority of medical applications are solely chemical based, and rarely (if ever) considers diet as part of the healing equation.   This clearly is a gross imbalance.

 

But are all modern methods faulty?   No, certainly not.   Take ultrasound machines for example, which are a technology based on a natural concept; namely, sound healing.   And though not originally an imaging technique, the vibrational effects of healing frequencies has been known for centuries.   Another example is aspirin, which is derived from willow bark and spiraea; and though synthetically created in the laboratory, is based on natural principles.

 

The point I am conveying here is that technology is rooted in a natural source; that the idea was born via organic means.   As such, those who practice natural healing methodologies are not quick to discount non-natural means, just simply choose those that are closest to nature.

 

So choosing to adopt a natural lifestyle is not asceticism but recognizing that living close to the s/Source – in harmony with nature’s elegant design – is far more suitable / sustainable than the current emphasis on chemical dependence.   For myself, living a natural lifestyle means that I look first to nature, to what is natural, rather than what is artificial.

 

Over the years I have heard it said that: the diseases we see today did not exist many years ago; and secondly, that the toxins in our environment are recent so could not have been contributing factors to disease prior to their introduction.   These are valid points, yet highlight a lack of understanding regarding what constitutes natural healing methodologies.

 

Science cannot honestly say that disease today did not exist among ancient man simply because there either was no written record, or the disease has yet to be analyzed through bone samples, or the disease was known by a different name, using words descriptive of the time period.   The same can be said regarding environmental toxins, which are more prevalent today then in the past, and have shown to have a negative influence to the overall health of every human who comes into contact with them.

 

A good example here are mental disorders, for they are more easily recognizable from historic  writings, and may or may not have been brought about by environmental toxins.  Today the general idea is that, though genes may play a role in the development of mental disorders, there exist no reliable findings connecting specific genes to specific categories of mental disorder.   As such, applying a chemical medication becomes problematic.

 

Interestingly enough, mental disorders have reliably shown to be prompted by subjective distress or disability within an individual, but which is not a part of normal development or culture.   This means, situations internal to the individual.   However, without knowing the internal cause, only the symptom is being addressed, so this external approach is temporary at best, making it far removed from a longterm or overall solution.

 

Yet, this is the standard approach today, to apply a chemical to address the external symptoms; and though this can be said to help the ‘immediate problem’, it still fails to address the root of the matter.   And therein is one of the differences between traditional Western medicine and natural healing methodologies.

 

When comparing the two, another hot button issue is autism, or correctly, autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 

As someone who teaches Yoga to autistic children, I not only am in immediate contact with them, but with their activist parents.   From them (and my own research) I have learned that the average of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has risen dramatically – up 57% from 2002 to 2006, for example.   Evenso, there is no agreement on either the cause or the increase; ideas run the gamut from environment to awareness of parents.   Considering that these are the two primary areas that scientists are looking at and attributing to ASD, it is worth noting that both – environment and awareness – are external and internal (objective and subjective, respectively) factors.   (A point that ties them in with the causes of mental disorders above.)

 

I cannot stress enough the meaning of ‘natural healing’ and ‘natural lifestyle’ choices, because, more often than not, when people hear this they tend to think, ‘denial’ of all modern approaches to health and healing.   This is simply not the case.

 

Many respectable physicians today – such as Dr. A. Weil, Dr. D. Ornish, Dr. M. Oz, Dr. M. Hyman, Dr. R. Snyderman, to name a few – all stress the importance of a holistic approach to healing.   And this is virtually identical to those of us who choose to live naturally and ‘close to the s/Source’.

 

Notably, each of the these doctors has received extensive traditional medical education, each has a well established practice, and each is at the cutting edge of the paradigm shift that is currently rushing through the medical industry across the planet.   Namely, they (and many others like them) agree that there is a glaring lack of open-mindedness on the part of individuals that have come up in the chemical-based approach to healing; specifically, that the treatment of disease must only be approached through scientifically proven means.   Additionally, all of these doctors (and many more) have commented on the almost religious belief of those in that chemical-based system that reacts very negatively to methodologies outside of that system.   Frankly I can agree with this position because I encounter it almost daily; namely, that there is an immediate skepticism and rejection of things outside that system that have not grown within that system.

 

If the reader feels that there is a pill solution to every ailment, then let me assure you that this idea is being challenged even from within the chemically based system.

 

I personally feel that all medicine should be integrated – which includes not off-handedly rejecting ideas outside of existing perimeters.   Currently, it is Western medicine that off-handedly rejects approaches to natural methodologies (not vice-versa), and this is unfortunate; for its patients are being kept in ignorance regarding proven approaches to health and healing.

 

At this juncture then I would like to introduce the definition of ‘holistic medicine’:

“A system of health care which fosters a cooperative relationship among all those involved, leading towards optimal attainment of the physical, mental emotional, social and spiritual aspects of health.   It emphasizes the need to look at the whole person, including analysis of physical, nutritional, environmental, emotional, social, spiritual, and lifestyle values.   It encompasses all stated modalities of diagnosis and treatment including drugs and surgery if no safe alternative exists.  Holistic medicine focuses on education and responsibility for personal efforts to achieve balance and well being.”

 

In short: I choose to maintain health – on every level of being – via natural means.  If I were to seriously injure myself – break a bone for example – I would seek the aid of a medical practitioner who has been trained to set bones.   Because Western doctors receive 5-8 days of dietary training in their 8 years of medical school/practice, they are the least qualified to recommend (let alone be aware of) the importance of food to overall health.

 

 

And this fact goes to highlight how far removed modern medicine has become from its ‘father’, Hippocrates (literally, the “Father of Western Medicine”).  A man who is well known for advising, “Let your food be medicine and your medicine be food”; and a man whose name is invoked in every Western medical ethic today.

 

 

Within that oath is yet another cornerstone of natural healing.

 

 

Namaste and Peace Out!

Yoginiji

Be Healthy lyrics

Be Healthy :

It’s all love . . .I don’t eat no meat, no dairy, no sweets
only ripe vegetables, fresh fruit and whole wheat
I’m from the old school, my household smell like soul food, bro
curried falafel, barbecued tofu
no fish though, no candy bars, no cigarettes
only ganja and fresh-squeezed juice from oranges
exercising daily to stay healthy
and I rarely drink water out the tap, cause it’s filthy

Lentil soup is mental fruit
and ginger root is good for the yout’
Fresh veg-e-table with the ital stew
sweet yam fries with the green calalloo
careful how you season and prepare your foods
cause you don’t wanna lose vitamins and miner-ules
and that’s the jewel
life brings life, it’s valuable, so I eat what comes
from the ground, it’s natural
let your food be your medicine (uh huh)
no Excederin (uh uh)
strictly herb, generate in the sun, cause I got melanin
and drink water, eight glasses a day
cause that’s what they say

They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy
my goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy
cause true wealth comes from good health, and wise ways
we got to start taking better care of ourselves

They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy
my goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy
cause true wealth comes from good health, and wise ways
we got to start taking better care of ourselves, be
healthy y’all . . .

Yeah, yeah, yeah, hold the fuck up, yo
we’ll take this little intermission, listen what the
fuck we gotta say, y’know?
Word is bond son, niggaz been livin fat for too long, knowamsayin?
Smokin bogeys, fuckin drinkin all types of shit
wailin out, not givin a fuck what they puttin in they
bodies, son, knowamsayin?
æ…‹out time niggaz start thinkin about that shit, son, knowamsayin?
That shit is fuckin, makin us deteriorate, son
word up, we gotta care bout our little babies an shit, son
niggaz got kids to raise, straight up
ya gotta start learnin yo self, learning bout ya health, son
learnin this world we live in, kid, knowamsayin?
It’s time to start changin all that shit god, word up
so I’m gonna leave y’all niggaz on some shit like that, ya knowamean?
Word up, y’all niggaz better start usin y’all minds an
shit, kid
Peace

Vegan Food Bill

On 14 February I went for my usual shopping trip of all fruits and veggies.   I spent $48.29.

On 27 February I still had leftovers from that trip: 4 apples, 3 mangoes, a package of celery, and 3 zucchini.

This is my typical Live Vegan Food Bill.

On 28 February I started a pre-planned Live Vegan juice fast, so went shopping to pick up all the items I would need for that.  I spent $60.37 cents.   All the fruits and veggies purchased are meant to be juiced, and the recipes supposed to last five (5) days.

Day five was yesterday and I still have a refrigerator full of produce.

My point is how so many make out about “how expensive” it is to “eat healthy”.   Well, this is simply not the case.

On average I spend $200.00 a month to eat – and that is rounded UP.

Do I buy all organic?  No, but then I – like you – don’t need to.

Am I healthy?   Very!   I own a Yoga Shala and teach 20 hours a week; in addition to my 1-2 hour daily personal Yoga practice.   So I am not just healthy, but physically fit and mental alert.

So next time someone tells you they “can’t afford” to eat healthy .. direct them to my blog and let them do the math.

Namaste and Peace Out!

Yoginiji

DVDs and Real Yoga

I recently came across this article: The Poverty of DVD Yoga.

I agree with this essay, that DVDs are a product, but do feel they can be a “mode of instruction”, just not where Yoga is concerned.

Yoga is one-on-one teaching, where the teacher and student (guru and chela [1]) form a direct line of communication.  Human to human contact is the bedrock upon which the foundation of Yoga is built.

Watching a DVD can never replace the direct experience of the teacher, and the individual unfoldment of the student.  During a Yoga class, ideas burst forth like mushrooms after a rain; and over time, individual dawning of conscious expression reveals itself in every aspect of being.  So no matter where the student finds themselves – driving to work, dropping the kids off to school, doing the dishes, cooking supper, walking the dog – they will gradual manifest the presence of mind that is Yoga.

A Yoga DVD is not a teacher.

Because Hatha Yoga in the West is primarily a physical practice (in some cases, a sole practice), DVD sales have sky rocketed.  And because personal lessons can be learned from them, those who buy DVDs have concluded that they are learning Yoga through them.

They are mistaken.

They are indeed experiencing physical fitness, and so a physical benefit, but this is but one facet – the least of which – that is Yoga.  In fact, any physical practice learned from a DVD – dance, aerobics, Chi Gung, and the like – will have a similar effect when the student’s mind is receptive to the subject.  But simply being receptive to a thing does not make one a student of that thing, let alone able to expand past the perimeters of that thing.

For example, when my students ask what DVDs I recommend I tell them ‘none’.  DVDs are strictly physical, so that when watching, the owner of the DVD simply mirrors the movements seen.  This can be harmful in several ways.  Not only can the watcher hurt them self in a singular pose, but they may also create injury through repeatedly making the same mistake.  Then, through repeated mistakes in movement, they create habit, which as we all know, are difficult to break free from.  So when the DVD practitioner meets a Yoga teacher, they must first be taught to break free from a harmful habit before they can learn the correct way of movement.  This can create mental turmoil in the way of ego, where the student feels they are doing it right and the teacher is wrong, so they will resist the one-on-one instruction either consciously or unconsciously on both a physical and mental level.

And this is just one example – a physical one that but briefly touches upon the realm of mind.

So when my students ask me to recommend a DVD for home practice, I suggest they do at home what they learn in the Shala.  When they relate that they cannot always remember the many steps that are necessary in the correct approach to any given pose, I tell them to move freely, to follow that feeling they get while at the Shala.  I tell them to follow that intuitive sense of ‘rightness’ they experience when they are in a pose under my keen eye.

This cannot be had from a DVD.

Hatha Yoga is a physical practice, as seen in the word hatha [2], but this should not be mistaken to mean that it exists outside of Yoga; hence the inclusion of the word.

Hatha Yoga has, from its timeless past, been a teacher-student practice.  It was meant from its beginning to be a means of building an interpersonal relationship.  First, teachers must be capable, which means identified by their teacher as ready to teach.  Then the student must be capable, which means receptive to learning, to include situational constraints where applied by a teacher.

What most in the West fail to realize is that only through a teacher-student relationship is the student able to work independently.  Instead, the student may think, “I can do it myself, I don’t need a teacher to show me how.”

If Yoga was a practice that one was literally born to – that one was as familiar with as the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat, then they would know the need for a teacher.

The one-on-one approach in the teacher-student model is not just advantageous for the student but for the teacher as well.  At the most basic level, the teacher learns from the student.  This happens when the teacher listens to the student, considers what they (the teacher knows), then relates that in a way the student can understand.  For myself, I have explained the same concept hundreds of different ways, all to aid the individual student I am speaking with understand the basic concept I am relating.  Simply put, we all do not learn the same way, so being a teacher means being fluid enough to adapt and adjust their knowledge in such a way to make it understandable to any given student.

A DVD cannot do this.  In fact, after a few viewings it becomes repetitive, so boring to the student; and before long, sits on the shelf collecting dust.  Perhaps next to the other objects the student has bought in an attempt to learn something.

This cannot happen in a teacher-student relationship simply because there is no repetition in a true Yoga class.  Sure, the student may come in and expect to do certain things – such as Surya Namaskara or Ujjayi Pranayama – but between the keen eye of the teacher and the ever growing receptivity of the student, coupled with their mental ‘frictive / hatha’ force, what may look the same on the outside is far from it on the inside.

And it is only under direct teaching that this situation can occur, can truly be experienced (let alone understood by merely reading these words).

Another challenge with DVDs is that they are being churned out by fitness trainers (Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin, Kathy Kaehler or Mandy Ingber [3]); and not much better, those so called ‘yogis’ who have DVDs (Ana Brett and Ravi Singh, Trudie Styler, and Rodney Yee, to name a few [4]).

There exists a unique chatter within a Yoga Shala [5], one that both supports and ensures the learning process.  A true Yoga Shala is a place of learning, growing, laughing and crying, where topics range from why the ‘splits’ are named after Hanuman, or the internal application of ‘energy locks’, to the importance of what the students had for lunch, to the many applications of breathing outside the Shala, to how one’s pets do Yoga, to the Yamas and Niyamas, to the nature of illness, to Ahimsa and Tantra, to Kundalini and Raja Yoga, to the mass marketing of Yoga products, to the integral steps involved in every Yoga pose, and so much, much more.

And it is this level of intimacy which allows for individual interaction, or the rich soil from which the seed of true Hatha Yoga can be properly nourished and grown.

Likewise, from which a student becomes trapped / confused into thinking that their fitness instructor is the ‘only’ or ‘best’ teacher.  I’ve seen this over the years: Where a student takes gym yoga and thinks this is the only way, or that their fitness trainer is actually passing on Yoga wisdom to them.  They are mistaken.

Hatha Yoga’s ancient poses are seen today in marketing – from TV commercials to glossy magazine ads – and in cardio / fitness / martial arts / fat burning / muscle building DVDs.  So the general public is duped into thinking that if someone is dong a Yoga pose then they must be teaching Yoga.

This is grossly incorrect.

Yoga is not just a physical practice.  Even Hatha Yoga is not just a physical practice.

So simply striking a Yoga pose does not make a Yoga pose.

Overall, one gets what they pay for; and this applies to both DVDs and gym / fitness yoga.  For example, I’ve attended Yoga classes where the instructor is barely knowledgeable about Hatha Yoga – so almost wholly ignorant of its more sublime points (let alone application) – and so passes on their misinformation to their students.  Notably this comes via attitude; so that I’ve seen catty, back-biting, ego-driven teachers who stand at the front of catty, back-biting, ego-driven students.  They are, therefore, propagating a seed of ill-will upon the world around them.

Hatha Yoga is a tool that helps the individual mold them self into a strong and calm, resilient and peaceful, healthy and non-stressed, toned and fit, keen-minded and spiritual aware being.

And face it, this is what we all want our life to be.

Mutual Respect and Peace Out!

Yoginiji

~ ~ ~

References:

1-The essay uses the word shisya, which is often used synonymously with chela.  They both mean ‘student’, but shisya specifically means one who has been initiated.  In the Western approach to Hatha Yoga, students are not initiated by their teachers, so chela is more accurate here.

2-Hatha means ‘friction, force’, meaning surface resistance to relative motion; as in the movement of muscle with ligament and/or tendon, or the movement of muscle with bone, or muscle to muscle.  It is also indicative of sliding or rolling (as opposed to bending, as in, there are no ‘backbends’ in Hatha Yoga).

3-Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin, Kathy Kaehler or Mandy Ingber, all, are fitness instructors who are now branching out into Yoga poses.

4-“Yogis” who have DVDs who are actually fitness trainers:

-Ana Brett and Ravi Singh: “Teach a system of exercise and meditation.”

-Trudie Styler: “actress, film producer, director”, “Pilates and dance instructor.”

-Rodney Yee: “gymnast, ballet dancer.”

-Beth Shaw: “fitness instructor.”

5-Shala, a Yoga teaching center; a holistic place of learning traditional Hatha Yoga.  As opposed to the Western concept of a ‘yoga studio’, where the physical practice of Yoga is taught.