How to Feel Nourished and Balanced in Winter 

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Lately I’ve found myself much less ready to crawl out of my warm covers in the morning and almost too ready to crawl into them at the end of the day.

It’s the first week of Winter here in the Southern hemisphere and I feel the hibernation instinct kicking in as the days get shorter and temperatures drop… I also see myself kicking and complaining in protest.

I’m a summer baby. I love the heat and I’ve been slightly obsessed with living an endless summer life for the past 6 years by traveling to or living in warm destinations when the weather gets cold.

But after talking to a friend about how much she loves cold weather and getting cosy this time of year I stopped to ponder why I resist it so much… and I realised a lot of it has to do with not wanting to slow down.

I love getting outdoors every day at the crack of dawn, going on weekend adventures with friends and almost every week I come up with a new project or idea I want to pursue. In other words I love being active. I’m comfortable being active, and winter makes me want to slow down…which makes me feel uncomfortable, even guilty.

If I simply want to wrap up at night and watch a movie or start my day slowly with a cup of tea I sometimes think, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I feeling so slow?” But the truth is nothing is wrong, except my perspective.

One of the most important lessons I continue to learn from my studies and dedication to practicing Ayurveda and Yoga is that when we align to Nature’s rhythms we thrive, and when when we resist Nature’s rhythms we struggle.

Well, this insight into my distain for winter was a real revelation in being misaligned with Nature’s rhythms…and I know I’m not alone. Our culture by and large is much more comfortable with being active and teaches us that self worth and success come from productivity.

But if we listen to Nature instead of modern culture (which is massively out of sync with the natural world resulting in an epidemic of lifestyle disease, mass destruction of biodiversity and rapid decline in natural resources)…if we instead listen to the rhythm of Nature, we see that in Winter she is singing to us all a lulu by of slowing down.

In Winter numerous plants go dormant and farmers allow the fields to lay fallow, knowing that this is a vital period of rest to prepare for Spring, the season of productivity. Many animals and insects hibernate or rest for the same reason.

It only makes sense that we would need to do the same! To pulsate between productivity and rest, this is the rhythm of Nature. 

If the fields never lay fallow the soil eventually becomes depleted of all nutrients and won’t support any production at all.

I’m starting to shift my perspective on Winter, and honour it as a time of resting and replenishing my inner soil, so that come Spring I have ample mental, physical and spiritual nutrients to “spring” out of bed and enjoy all the activities and innovating my heart desires.

Aligning to nature’s rhythms is one of the most important concepts of living a yoga lifestyle, but so is the continuous, daily pursuit of balance.  

Winter is considered the Kapha time of year according to Ayurveda, which means the heavier, moister elements of water and earth dominate. 

This natural heaviness lends perfectly to resting, but can also lead to an imbalance of too much water and earth — heaviness, lethargy, depression, mucus, weight gain.

So, to truly let Winter nourish us, we must let ourselves drop into the natural heaviness of the season in a balanced and mindful way.

Take Action: Feel Nourished and Balanced by Winter

  1. Give yourself permission to slow down. Feel good about going to bed earlier, resting, reading, drinking copious amounts of warm tea and introverting. Use the darker evenings as time to self care, take hot baths and do self oil massage. This is the time for it. The long sunny days will be back soon enough with all their activities and socialising.
  1. Stop eating like it’s summer.  I am also a serious salad lover, but Ayurveda teaches us that eating cold, raw food in the Winter can throw our bodies into a serious imbalance. Instead we’re better nourished by warm soups, cooked veggies and spices. When I don’t adjust my diet to match the season I can really feel it. Check out this quick Ayurvedic food guide for Winter. More on this in my next blog.
  1. Exercise and heat the body in the morning. While we want to allow for slowing down and resting, we also want to avoid stagnation (remember, it’s all about balance). It’s very important to do heating exercise in the winter to counter balance the cold and tendency toward depression. Increasing the circulatory and respiratory system will also boost your immunity and keep you more resilient to seasonal colds and excess mucus. I find starting slower, warming the joints and muscles, then increasing intensity works best in Winter.

Share with us some of your favourite ways to find nourishment and balance in winter! 

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How to Simplify Life with Ayurveda (no joke!)

ayurveda-yogaA few weeks ago I was chatting to a fellow yoga teacher and mentioned that I love Ayurveda because it has really simplified my life. I think he literally snorted, possibly rolled his eyes and said something like, “Ayurveda and simple, never heard those two words in a sentence together.”

To be honest, I would have made a very similar comment only a few years ago and scoffed at the notion of simplifying Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India (considered one of the oldest in the world) and sister science to Yoga.

It wasn’t for lack of studying Ayurveda that I would have scoffed in the past. In fact, my first job after graduating massage school in 2003 was at an Ayurvedic clinic and wellness spa. I did the constitution tests, got consultations, read David Frawley’s famous books, and learned all of the traditional Ayurvedic bodywork treatments like abhyanga, swedana, garshana, bastis and shirodhara. 

I learned more about Ayurveda in my yoga teacher training in India, even dedicated my final project to Yogic and Ayurvedic understanding of digestive health, and then went and experienced first hand the powerful Ayurvedic cleansing and detoxing process know as Panchakarma. Which was probably one of the most challenging experiences I’ve had, but at the end left me feeling clean as a new born baby. My eyeballs literally looked white as snow and I felt like my skin was radiating.

I did my best over the years to stick to my constitution food lists, exercise regimes and herbs, but always felt a bit confused about what I should be eating, doing or taking something and why. That is until I started studying with my amazing Ayurveda teacher Cate Stillman who totally transformed my life and understanding of Ayurveda with her 9 month Living Ayurveda course.

This system has now become a tool to simplify my life, and it truly can be for everybody! So I wanted share with you all my simplified understanding and how it has made a much bigger impact than all the complicated practices, recipes and lists I tried to follow previously.

First, I started to see the whole world in terms of the 5 elements and their qualities. 

__6336808.jpegJust like the Chinese medicine system, Ayurveda recognises that ALL things are comprised of the 5 elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth). Ayurveda further groups the element into three main categories, also know as humours, constitutions or doshas: Vata (ether + air), Pitta (fire + water) and Kapha (water + earth).

We all know innately what the elements feel like and what they’re qualities are; for example air feels cool, light, or changeable, fire feels hot, fast or sharp and earth feels heavy, dense or stable.

We each contain all of these elements and their qualities, as does everything around us, but simply in different ratios and this changes throughout the day, our life, or depending on season and culture.

I started to notice more when my environment had lots of fire, or my food felt more heavy and earthy, or when my thoughts were airy and changeable or my body more watery. I began to see the  elements in all parts of my life.

Second, I worried less about stories and more about the elements and their qualities. 

Have you ever had a bad day and the list of all the things that were going wrong felt endless? On top of that you have this overwhelming sense of not knowing why it’s going so poorly and analysing it just isn’t helping?

I know I have, and getting lost in the stories of who, what, why and how just doesn’t help, in fact, it often makes it worse.

Instead of going over and over in my head what happened or why I felt bad, I started to pay attention to the qualities of what happened or how I felt. For example, I’ve had too much coffee and my thoughts are scattered, lots of air qualities are showing up in my mind now. Or, I just had an argument with my partner, I’m feeling really pissed off, lots of fire is showing up in my emotions and body right now.

I stepped away from the stories and habits and simplified each experience down to what element or dosha was dominating.

Third, I focused on balancing the elements in the present moment. 

The Ayurvedic system has a deceptively simple, yet massively powerful principle that show’s up in all of the literature:

Like increases like and opposites balance. 

Our desire is to find balance in life. When we feel balanced we feel good. We function our best, feel our healthiest and live our best lives.

So when ever I felt out of balance I started to ask myself, “what element is dominant, what element is there too much of?” And then I’d ask myself, “What is the opposite, and how can I bring in the opposite to find balance.”

The beauty of this is that we stop over complicating life with trying to figure out all the things that happened leading up to that moment or how we’re going to change it all in the future. We’re simply dealing with the present and how to find balance now.

For example, just had an argument, too much fire, what can we do to bring in the opposite, cooling. It can literally be some fresh cool air, a glass of water, a few big breaths. And you start to come back to a sense of balance, which will start to change everything.

Or perhaps you’ve just gone through a loss, and feel empty, lonely the qualities of ether. How could you bring in the opposite, some earth, grounding, and nourishment?

It’s all very practical, natural and obvious, and that’s what I love about it.

Looking at the world through the Ayurvedic lens empowers us to become our own best friend, care taker and doctor. 

The western world has locked medicine and health up in the ivory towers of institutions and created a cultural paradigm of taking health out of the individuals hands. People often feel confused about their health, that it’s too complicated to know what to do for themselves or they don’t trust their own body’s instincts.

If we allow ourselves each day, with each practice and life challenge to scale it back down to the basics of elements, qualities and the intention to maintain balance, we can bring the power of health back into our own hands. As my teacher Cate once said in a lecture, “Ayurveda is the medicine of the people.” I love that!!

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The Tongue Never Lies

images-3While we might let slip a few white lies across our tongue from time to time, the surface of our tongue can’t help but speak the truth.

In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, the tongue is considered the emissary of the digestive tract. I like thinking of it like that, a representative or spokesperson, non-opinionated simply reporting what is.

The tongue reports the facts to us about what we’re eating through our tastes but it also reports facts to us about how we’re digesting what we’ve eating and if the organs are functioning properly.

This last form of reporting takes a little bit of translating, but once you get the hang of it, it’s one of the coolest and most informative daily practices from the Ayurvedic tradition.

It’s called Ayurvedic Tongue Diagnosis, and while Ayurvedic doctors can read a great deal into how the tongue looks, any person can get a useful daily read on their health simply by learning the basics. This should become a regular tool for any yogi.

The tongue reports on our state of digestion and health through it’s appearance. 

The digestive tract and organs are mapped out on the tongue and so it tells a tale of health or imbalance in any of these areas through colour, texture, coating, moisture, shape, smell and more (see info-graphic and charts below).

Ayurveda recognises that anything we don’t digest accumulates in our body and then becomes toxic. This accumulation is called Ama, and when we sleep at night the body works to eliminate ama, particularly through the membrane system of our body.

We see this as goop in our eyes or mucus in our nose or stool. The tongue is also a membrane and the white coating that appears on it each morning is considered ama, or toxicity, that the body is processing and pushing out.

As Dr. Bruce Fife, author of The Detox Book put it, “Your tongue can reveal how much toxic material is stored in your cells and vital organs. The tongue is a mirror of the membrane system of your body.”

Paying attention to the quality of this ama appearing on our tongue can reveal a great deal and help us make day to day choices that direct us back into balance.

Research Your Tongue Every Morning! 

A great practice to get in the habit of is sticking your tongue out first thing in the morning and checking out how it looks. Do this before you drink water or brush your teeth to get the best reading of what your body was processing through sleep.

Then compare what you’re seeing in the mirror with the Tongue Diagnosis Charts (see below).

Things to think about when checking our your tongue:

  • What colour is it?
  • Is the coating evenly distributed across your tongue or accumulated in particular areas?
  • Does it smell?
  • Is it dry or moist? Frothy?
  • What do the edges look like? Smooth or scalloped?
  • Are there red bumps or patches? Where?
  • Are there cracks? Where?

Compare this information to the charts and graphs and start taking action to bring yourself back into balance based on what you see.

Spend a week drawing your tongue, what you observe and how it changes. I love this practice not only to help me monitor my body but also because sticking out my tongue in the morning makes me laugh to myself.

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Tongue Scrapping

After you’ve listened to what the tongue is telling you about your health, scrap that toxic ama off it with a metal tongue scrapper rather than swallowing it back into the system. Lightly scrap from back to front 5-7 times. Notice the color of the ama on the tongue scrapper.

Tongue scrapping is a simple Ayurvedic oral hygiene practice done every morning before drinking water.

Doing this on a regular basis will also heighten our sense of taste and increase the intelligence of our tongue. The more intelligent our tongue, the healthier food we eat and the better we feel.

Tell us what you’ve discovered through checking out your tongue this week!?

The Grocery Stores Have Gone, What Now?!

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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! 

How to Find Love in a Bottle 

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Yes, you can find love in a bottle. And no, it’s not in a wine, spirits or beer bottle. Nor is it a magic potion. But keep reading, this might just change your life.

So where is this bottle of love? Believe it or not, you can find in on the shelves of most grocery stores (and no ladies, it is not a bottle of silky, raw, organic chocolate).

It’s a simple bottle of oil.  Well not just any oil. We’ll take organic ideally, either coconut, sesame, sweet almond, avocado or sunflower.

And how do we find love with this bottle of oil? By rubbing it all over our bodies on a regular basis!

Self oil massage is an Ayurvedic practice that has changed my life. 

It has so many benefits but the greatest for me is that it’s helped me practice self love.  And if you don’t know this little secret about self love, practicing it means that it starts to overflow in all other areas of your life.

The more I’m connected to love and caring for myself, the more my heart is open and loving to the people around me and I fall in love with the work I’m doing.

According to Ayurveda, oil holds the same energy as love, and love is the vibration of consciousness coming into form. So every time we rub oil on our bodies it become a gesture of love.

Daily Dose of Love 

I used to slap lotion all over my body just to keep my skin moisturised, but when my Ayurvedic teacher taught me the practice oil massage, explained about the quality of love in oil and the shit contained in most lotions, my whole relationship to moisturising my skin changed.

Firstly, I only use oil on my skin now (read why below) and every morning or anytime I moisturise my skin I’m aware of this energy of love in the oil (even if just as an idea) and as I put it on I feel grateful to my skin and body. It puts me in a mindset of appreciation and acceptance rather than self criticism.

It’s become a ritual that changed how I look at myself. It makes me stop, even if just for a moment, and take note of how I feel. I might give my neck and shoulders a little extra rub, or my feet or hands if they feel sore. It doesn’t have to be a huge ritual, and just this little bit of self care can change my day.

Oil is also grounding and has the qualities of connection and cohesion. When I feel scattered, lonely, exhausted, overwhelmed or my heart feels a bit achy, taking some time to do a little oil massage is like putting myself back together.

It can be a lifesaver when you’re going through big things like breakups, moves, job changes, sickness, ect.

This can be a great time to set more time aside to and make oil massage a longer ritual where you really take time with yourself. Release the stress accumulated in your tissue, improve your circulation of blood and lymph, nourish your soul with lots of love and self acceptance and allow the nervous system to wind down.

Lotions and Creams are Crap 

Secondly, our skin is our largest organ and is a permeable membrane. Anything we put on it soaks in and penetrates our bodies. Ayurveda looks at the skin as ingesting the substances place on it, and for that reason says we should only put food grade quality stuff on our skin. Next time you grab a cream to rub on, ask yourself it you’d eat it?

Lotions and creams are a combination of oil and water plus emulsifiers to keep the two from separating. Because of that they don’t really nourish and feed the skin, but just coat it so it doesn’t feel so dry.

Many of them also contain fragrances and other toxic chemicals that can damage, clog or dry the skin. What did people put on their skin before these relatively new products existed? Natural oils!

For my face I use rose hip oil. It doesn’t leave you skin feeling greasy at all and it reduces the wrinkles that come from dehydration and sun exposure. I prefer sweet almond oil for my body on a regular basis because it’s lighter, and coconut when I really need nourishment and deep moister.

Simple Rules for Self Massage

  1. Listen to your intuition and just massage wherever you’re body is asking for it.
  2. Massage your feet if you don’t have time for your whole body. Reflexology has mapped the entire body on the feet so you’re still giving whole body love.
  3. Do long strokes on long bones, circular strokes around joints.
  4. Stroke moving from periphery toward heart to stimulate lymph and circulation.
  5. Do it somewhere warm, and use towels that you don’t mind getting oily.
  6. Be careful of slipping if you do it in the shower, and pore hot vinegar water down your drain every so often to avoid build up of oily film in pipes.

Benefits of Self Oil Massage Unknown

• Nourishes mind and body, grounding, connecting

• Rejuvenates the whole body, including the skin

• Increases longevity

• Delays aging

• Relives fatigue

• Builds stamina

• Promotes deeper sleep

• Enhances complexion and luster of skin.

• Enhances circulation and detoxification

• Releases stress

• Awakens the senses

• Recovers muscle fatigue

Join me April 1-7 for the Bali Spirit Retreat and let your spirit shine! 

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• Supports digestion, corrects blood pressure, and supports organ communication

• Shifts the attitude into positivity

• Teaches self-love + self-care

A New Definition of Purity 

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The idea of living a life of purity used to bring to mind virgin angles sheltered from the world, untouched by the sometimes harsh experiences of life, or celibate sages living in far off ashrams or monasteries. In other words, not the reality most of us live in, and as such I didn’t really understand how to strive for it as the Yoga Sutras suggests we should.

But I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to purity in recent years as I’ve explored more deeply the meaning of Sauca.

Sauca, means purity or cleanliness, and is the first of the niyamas, or attitudes of a yogi as outlined by the Yoga Sutras.

The more I use yoga practice to read my life in terms of energy rather than stories or ideas, the more logical all of these practices become.

Energy, or Prana, is the stuff of life, and really all of our yoga practices aim to improve the flow of life-force into us and through us. As Darren John Main says, “Prana is the difference between a block of wood and a living tree. It is the difference between a corpse and a living body.”

I’ve learned through practicing yoga and studying Ayurveda that the most important question isn’t, “Is this good or bad?” but rather, “How is this effecting my prana?”

In this way we can make decision based on what’s best for us as individuals, not based on a list of should’s, and the more we do this the more we learn to trust and take care of ourselves.

So, from that perspective I’ve redefined purity and cleanliness, Sauca: anything that improves my intake and flow of life-force energy is pure; anything that depletes, blocks or stagnates my life-force energy is impure.

In my yoga lifestyle programs this week we’ve explored how Sauce based on this definition plays out in our lives. And how we can make Sauca a practice rather than simply an esoteric ideal.

We often hear people taking about practicing purity in how we eat and cleanliness of the body, but below you’ll find some of the less commonly looked at areas of our life that we’ve been practicing Sauca.

Practicing Purity of Place

If we’re surrounded by clutter and mess then the energy around us will be blocked and have a big impact on how we feel, think and act.

Today, simple take some time to clean up the space around you.

Even if you only have 10 minutes just clear out some small drawer or your wallet. If you have more time and energy go to town and get cleaning! Notice how your energy feels afterwards.

Practicing Purity of Speech 

When our communication is unclear it means that the interactions surrounding that communication is not flowing optimally. Remember, think about everything in terms of energy and how it flows or stagnates.

We all know it feels so much better when we’re understood or when we’re understanding someone else clearly, and that when this isn’t happening there seem to be problems.

Today, simply remind yourself to speak from your highest self and deepest truth.

If you’re finding it hard to speak your truth take a moment to ask yourself, what is the limiting belief that stops me from communicating clearly? And, what is the deeper truth?

Practicing Purity of Thought

Our beliefs and thoughts are truly what create our lives.

Purity and cleanliness in thought means flowing and liberation of energy. The biggest way to stop the flow of energy is to have negative thoughts about yourself.

Unfortunately, this negative self talk also seems to be a universal trait of man kind. A lot of our modern culture actually perpetuates this negative self talk, particularly the advertising industry that plays on our feelings of inadequacy to sell us something we don’t need.

Today, let yourself hear the self limiting thought that is arising, acknowledge that there is a deeper truth beyond that self limiting though that will liberate your energy. Write that deeper truth down! Repeat it to yourself as much as you can!

How do you practice purity?

I’ve Neglected My Kitchen Lately, and Myself 

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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?