The Grocery Stores Have Gone, What Now?!

IMG_2275

What would you do if you woke up and all grocery stores were shut down, emptied out and there was no place to buy food? Would you know how to feed yourself?

I’d frantically run to all my friend’s who have veggie patches and beg for seeds and off shoots or be left to subsist on the herbs living in my kitchen window. I can only laugh at how long it might take me to catch a fish, and might try harvesting some wild edibles but worry about which one’s were safe.

Wow, this could be the most effective weight loss program ever!

But seriously, I’ve been fascinated this week thinking about how so few of us in the West actually know how to source food from nature. In other words, many of us don’t know how to feed ourselves.

We don’t know how to provide one of the basic necessities of life, and I’ve been wondering how that effects our psyche and society.

We only need three things for survival right? Food, water and shelter (let’s add love to that list for good measure).

Yes we have all of those things in over abundance in modern affluent culture, and yet our society is obsessed with scarcity. Why do we always worry about lack when we have so much? And why do many subsistence cultures in third world countries seem to worry far less about scarcity than we do?

As I’ve explored and discussed this recently, I’m getting a sense that our lack of connection and engagement with the natural source of food has created a deep, primal insecurity that leads to a world view of scarcity, competition and discontent.

Where does your food come from? 

Recently, over the past 50 to 100 years, the majority of western population stopped learning how to plant and grow food, or hunt and forage.

The industrial revolution sent us on a detour further and further away from being part of our natural source of food that we now have epidemics of diseases such as diabetes that come from ingesting “food” who’s origin in nature can hardly be traced.

Maybe part of our over-consumption culture comes from not knowing where nourishment comes from. From feeling like it’s out of our control, and we then gorge in response to the subconscious fear that the lifeline will someday be cut. We stay dissatisfied because don’t know how to provide for ourselves.

People who live off the land face hardships and fears, but in general understand that nature provides all we need. They know how to tap into that wellspring and have control over their primary needs. They understand the pulsation of seasons and cycles, and know that often scarcity is temporary, or seasonal, so worry less about it and exude contentment.

Perhaps the anxiety, fear, constant striving for more and never feeling satisfied pattern I see (and get sucked into myself) could be assuaged by remembering and reconnecting to the inherent abundance provided by the natural world.

Plant-based diets are about connecting to the Earth Yogis eat

In my studies of Ayurveda, which at their core focus on aligning with the rhythms and wisdom of nature, I’ve learned that eating a plant-based diet is a crucial yogi lifestyle habit.

There are many physical health benefits gained from eating a plant based diet such as improved immunity, energy, digestion, better skin, sleep and less inflammation, but I think the greatest benefit of a plant-based diet has to do with how it impacts our world view.

When we focus on plants as our primary source of nutrition, we start to pay more attention to nature. Observing nature reveals a powerful and beautiful truth: the plant kingdom is doing everything it can to support and feed us.

Take a moment right now to reflect on all the ways plants support us — from the air we breath, timber we build with, food we eat, or feed other animals we eat, even to the car’s we drive (petrol after all is fossilised plant matter).

On top of that nature gives us a mind blowing canvas of dynamic beauty, architectural and chemical ingenuity scientists constantly mimic, intelligent communication systems and most importantly, being in nature just makes us feel good.

Eating a plant-based diet reminds us of the inherent support provided by nature and how we’re connected to that. Our world view shifts more toward unity, cooperation, collaboration and support.

When we feel into that support our stress levels drop, our sense of connectivity increases, and our mental and physical health improves. We focus on eating for nourishment and start to avoid low energy, depleting substances.

Eating a plant based diet is a practice of consciously connecting the outer ecosystem to the inner ecosystem, and it may well save our species and planet.

Tips to Upgrade Your Inner and Outer Ecosystems Connection with Plant Based Diet 

  1. Think about where your food comes form in nature. If you can’t identify the natural source of what you’re eating you probably shouldn’t eat it. Anything so processed is low in consciousness, life-force and nutritional value.
  2. Let eating become a trigger for gratitude and nature appreciation. Each time you eat think about the plant source on your plant and the inherent abundance on the planet, feel grateful and relaxed knowing you’re taken care of.
  3. Become actively part of the nourishment cycle and give back to the plants. Start to grow herbs, veggies, sprouts, support local farmers markets and brands that give back to the planet. Start a compost or worm farm and feed the soil. The natural design is symbiosis, only in modern times has that changed. Supporting plants reconnects us to a world view of cooperation and abundances v. competition and scarcity.

What’s your favourite way to connect to Nature? How do you become part of the plant food cycle? Share resources with us, let’s support each other! 

I’ve Neglected My Kitchen Lately, and Myself 

60-6066-HJZD100Z

I opened a cupboard recently and out toppled a box of tea and a jar of spices. I started to hastily shove them back into the cluttered mess and rummage around to find what I needed, but then I stopped, looked at the state of those shelves and thought, “Wow, I have seriously neglected my kitchen lately, this has got to change!”

Now the truth is, it took me a couple of days before I set aside the time to dive into the mess and reorganise. But once I did start ripping everything out of the cupboards, throwing old junk away, making the shelves sparkle and stacking those pots, pans, jars and even all the annoying mismatched tupperware ever so neatly, I wondered why I’d waited so long.

Clearing my kitchen felt like clearing mind, emotions, and priorities and, I had great insights into how the way I treated my kitchen reflected how I treated myself.  

Before I dove into the chaos I remembered a free talk my Ayurvedic teacher Cate Stillman gave called the Simple Kitchen. I found it saved in my files and listened to it again as I sat on the kitchen floor surrounded by the explosion of all it’s contents.

The Kitchen is the hub of consciousness 

Cate reminded us that the kitchen is the hub or centre of the family, the household, and our  consciousness. The energy of the kitchen takes hold of and influences the consciousness of everyone it’s feeding.

Even if you’re single like I am and it mostly feeds just you, the way we treat our kitchen reflects how we’re relating to our daily act of nourishment.

I must say, to begin with I felt a bit embarrassed and down trodden sitting amongst the mess and listening to Cate asked probing questions like, “What has the energy in your kitchen been lately? How does that relate to your eating patterns? What would you like the energy of the kitchen to be like?”

I realised that lately my kitchen was not nearly as intentional as I’d like it to be (and nor were my eating habits), and this being the hub of my consciousness I could also see how that was influencing my sense of clarity, self love and health.

The Kitchen holds the fire of transformation

Well this insight lit the fire under my procrastinating bum and I got organising. The kitchen is after all about fire, agni, the heat of transformation or as Cate put it alchemy.

Even if we’re not actually cooking with a flame, every time we step into the kitchen we’re engaging the process of transforming substances into the fuel and make up of our body. I could feel that heat of transformation working it’s magic on me just by organising tea boxes, bags of grains and jars of herbs.

Cate lectured about this space being like a laboratory where we use our food as medicine, where we experiment and discover ourselves, our needs and our inner nature.

Our engagement with the kitchen is a yoga practice.

Yoga is not about doing everything perfectly, it’s about exploring who we are, and discovering what we need to find balance and harmony and connect to our most sacred self.

Cate dug deeper and asked questions like: What is your attitude when you walk into the kitchen? What attitude do you want to have in the kitchen? How can your kitchen be your yoga practice?

She also gave great tips on getting organised to support weekly kitchen sadhana. Sadhana refers to a practice that invokes spirit or calls to the highest.

Our food prep can be a sadhana of self care, a practice that connects us to our spirit and our intention for the whole week, for our health and deeper purpose. By simply picking on day to do extra prep we’re set up to nourish ourselves deeply for the week and feel more supported for our work in the world.

Honouring the Kitchen, honouring ourselves

The probing continued: Do you honour the kitchen as the hub/centre of the family organism, of consciousness? How do you want to honour the kitchen as the centre? How do you want to refine the kitchen so that it becomes an even more intentional hub or creation centre?

Cate recommend placing something in your kitchen to remind you of your deeper intentions and the power of the kitchen as the hub of consciousness. I placed two little Balinese statues in prayer above my cupboards to remind me, and recipe booklet I got from my meditation teacher called “The Yoga of the Kitchen.”

Just before sitting down to write this I made lunch, looked at those two things and felt a sense of calm and ease come over me. It changed my whole attitude from “hurry up and make lunch so you can do your other things” to “This is sacred, this is self love and self care and meant to be enjoyed.”

The kitchen is a place of joy and connection

There is a reason everyone crams themselves into the kitchen at parties, and yes part of it is because we all love the food. But I think the bigger reason is that it feels like an intimate space that is also familiar and safe where we can be real and enjoy each other’s company.

We need to be nourished by connection and joy, community and intimacy as much if not more than by any kind of food. It’s no wonder that sharing food throughout all cultures has been the meeting ground for family and community.

As my meditation teacher Tim Mitchell, who is also an Ayurvedic chef once told me, “the most important ingredient for any recipe is love.”

Spring is the best time to clean, so get going and clear the energy of your kitchen and your consciousness!

Tell us, what do you do to make your kitchen more sacred?

The Mysteries of Second Winds and Sluggish Mornings

10606462_10205025542908090_4336050483648887425_n

Ever wonder why you get a second wind late at night? Why you can wake up early but then feel heavy the rest of the morning? Or why you just can’t seem to stay focused in the afternoon? 

Amazingly, the traditional medicine system of India, Ayurveda, has an explanation for all of this and it’s been the topic of the free talks I’ve given over the last few months.

As mentioned in previous posts the Ayurvedic system understands that EVERYTHING is composed of the five elements — ether, air, fire, water and earth — and paying attention to the elements that dominant in and around you is a crucial part of living a healthy life.

Why? Because health is synonymous to balance and when we have an imbalance of elements in our life we have health problems.

The beauty of this system is that once we get our head around the qualities of the elements and how they show up in our food, body, personality, environment, and all things, we can easily design a life of balance and health.

It’s really simple. Just remember that like increases like and opposites balance. 

If there is too much of one element in your life, just bring in the opposite to find balance.

Ask yourself right now, what is out of balance in my life? Intuitively you might have a sense that this imbalance relates to an element — for example, too much movement (air), or stimulation (fire), a sense of emptiness (ether), lack of structure (water) or stagnation (earth).

The next step is to simply ask: What is the opposite element or quality and how can I bring that into my life to find balance?

Life is no more than an accumulation of days and moments. As such, to change our lives we’ve got to change our day to day patterns. 

One of the most practical and powerful lessons of Ayurveda is understanding how the elements show up throughout the day and then creating daily routines based on this understanding that bring balance into your life.

It’s called Dinacharya in Sanskrit, and means daily rhythms or routines.

When our daily routines align to the daily rhythms of nature we thrive — in mind, body and spirit. When we’re out of synch with these rhythms health issues start to manifest.

Sadly, our modern culture is very out of synch with the natural daily rhythm, and as a result we have an epidemic of lifestyle diseases and issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, irritable bowl syndrome, cancers, depression, anxiety and many many more.

So what are Nature’s daily rhythms and how do we align to them? 

The day is broken down into three periods each with dominant elements (see clock graphic). This cycle happens twice in a day and is influence by sunrise, sunset and when the sun is highest in the sky or other side of the earth. Worry less about exact times and feel more into the influence of the sun on the planet.

When we know what elements dominate in each time of the day, we can be wise about how we choose to spend that time, always remembering that like increases like and opposites balance.

Element and energy dominance at each time of day:

Energy-Clock-with-copyright

2:00 – 6:00 – air & ether (Vata dosha) — the subtle wind energy

Before the sun rises, air and ether dominates, meaning there is a lot of lightness, movement, and connection to spirit and subtle energy. This is a perfect time to meditate, and also why some people wake up in the early hours of the morning full of thoughts.

In the afternoon these elements cycle around again creating lightness. This can sometimes cause scattered thinking in the afternoon, but if you ground yourself (opposite quality to air is earth), then it can be a fantastic time for creative thinking and projects.

6:00 – 10:00 – water and earth (Kapha dosha) — the nourishing water energy

Once the sun rises, the heavier, denser elements of water and earth dominate. This is why dew forms on the grass and why we can start to feel sluggish again even if we woke up with energy before the sun came up. This is the best time to do physical activity, bring movement (air/lightness) in for balance, and use your dense physical body. Careful not to eat too heavy of a breakfast our you’ll just bring more of that earth and water into you and get out of balance.

In the evenings water and earth elements make their appearance again, our body physiologically reacts to the darkening of the sky and we start to feel heaviness and density. Go with it, we want this in the evening so that we can wind down and get a good night sleep. Again, careful not to eat a heavy dinner or you’ll exacerbate these qualities.

10:00 – 2:00 – fire and water (Pitta dosha) — the transforming fire energy

When the sun is highest in the sky we feel the transformative heat and movement of fire and water in our bodies.  We feel stimulated mentally and physically. All primates, not just humans, produce the most bile (digestive fire) in the middle of the day. To capitalise on this fire we want to eat our biggest meal at lunch, and also be mindful not to overheat ourselves with too much sun or stimulating food and drink.

The infamous second wind kicks in usually around 10pm when the fire element makes it’s second appearance in the day. Ideally, we want to be in bed at this time so that rather than stimulating our mind this fire quality can go to stimulating tissue reparation and digestion of the day’s experiences and substances while we sleep. If we skip this and stay up too late our body really starts to suffer.

Want to start living in alignment? 

It’s well and good to think about these concepts, but making them part of your day to day life is when the real magic starts. From this blog you can already start to apply this information by paying attention to how you work with the energy of the day or exacerbate it.

If you really want to dive into this juicy material and start to see it transform your life into greater health and vitality I’ve created a 30 Day Yoga Evolution program that guides you through designing ideal daily rhythms.

This program also uses the latest habit science research to help you create new habits that you’ll actually stick to and a healthy life style that is sustainable.

The next 30 Day’s starts this Sunday, September 28th at Qi Yoga in Freshwater and part of the program includes a one month unlimited class pass. I’ve also created an online version of the program for people who can’t make it to the Sunday sessions, find out more here.

Tell us, what’s your favourite time of the day and why?

What Healed Me, Sustainability and Community

IMG_2439

I fell in love with yoga over a decade ago when I was 18 years old, new to Uni, struggling with an autoimmune disorder, anxiety, bouts of depression and the stress of working and going to school full time.

All I knew was that when I did yoga I felt better. My symptoms decreased, I slept better, ate better, my body hurt less and as a result I felt happier and less worried.

At the time I thought I couldn’t get too much of a good thing, so I went crazy on yoga, doing two hour practices every morning, trying to follow all the yoga lifestyle rules and obsessing on what I ate or did.

But I’d always hit a wall. It would be too extreme. I’d isolate myself from my friends, feel like I couldn’t keep it up, get overwhelmed, and then rebel against it and quit for a while.

That is until all my symptoms started to show up again, and then I’d throw myself at it again and swear I was going to run away to live in an ashram.

I had found yoga, but the truth is, I hadn’t yet found what would heal me. 

One day in one of my rebellious “I can’t live like a yogi” phases I saw my yoga teacher. I was meek and apologised for not coming to class every morning and mumbled some excuses.

I thought for sure he would scold me for not being dedicated, but instead he told me to be easier on myself. That if I really wanted to make yoga part of my life, I didn’t have to go to the extremes. He told me to do less, but more consistently.

Sustainable Lifestyles  

It hit me hard (in the best possible way) and I suddenly started to shift my idea of what living a yoga lifestyle meant. I started thinking about it more in terms of sustainability. I even had one of those Homer Simpson “duh” moments, I was studying environmental sustainability at Uni after all.

The lesson comes that when we make small changes we stick to them, and when we stick to things for the long haul, that’s when our life really starts to change. It might not happen over night, but it happens in a big way that lasts. And that is what’s healed me.

This is why I’m so passionate about the yoga lifestyle programs I teach, because I know that what people really need to change their lives is a formate and plan to make these habits practical and sustainable.

Both the 30 Day Yoga Evolution and the 10 Week Transformation Programs do just that. We workshop and plan how to live a yoga lifestyle in the modern world, not in a cave and that genuinely works for us as individuals. After all, our practice is supposed to help us live a happy life, not become another burden.

Community

I’ve also learned that when we go it alone, making changes to our life is so much harder.

Sangha is the Sanskrit word for “community of like minded people” and is an essential part of yoga.   When we surround ourselves with like minded people we feel supported and empowered in living the way we want to live.

And in our modern culture we really need this because living a more relaxed, healthy, peaceful and harmonious life goes against what the media giants are bombarding us with on a daily basis. We need to come together and use our collective strength to move against that cultural current.

One thing I’ve heard from the people who participated in the 30 Day Yoga Evolution was how inspired they were by each other. How simply the act of sharing, exploring and diving deep into discussion with like minded people is transformational.

I also see this exact same magic happen on the Bali Yoga retreats I teach, and honestly I think it is one of the most powerful aspects of the experience. In fact, this is exactly what I want to facilitate — transformation through the gathering of like minded people all supporting each other along a journey of ever more conscious living.

Let’s have the conversations that inspire us, in class, online, in a group or over a coconut in Bali.