Every Sunday morning from around mid-April to early November, I pop on old brown pants, a raggedy white shirt that proclaims “I Walked the Bourbon Trail” and a black hat with RF on the front that I am pretty sure stands for Roger Federer, and head out to work in the Anahata garden. This garden is the source of produce for the Anahata Food Project, a community service project of Yoga on High that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to a local food pantry. Read More…
by Jessica Hunt
Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, gives us guidelines for how to live in a state of balance, peace, and happiness. Through healthy diet and lifestyle routines, we can maintain balance and preserve health.
In the Ayurvedic system, seasonal changes are believed to be a contributing factor to imbalance and disease. By recognizing these changes and adapting our lifestyle accordingly, we have the tools to maintain harmony with nature.
The first step to maintain health and balance is to have a consistent sleep schedule. The best time to wake is early in the morning around sunrise. At this hour, the mind is alert and focused which makes an ideal time to fit in your yoga or meditation practice. Read More…
by Jessica Hunt
Ayurveda is a word in the Sanskrit language that translates to the science, or wisdom, of life. It is a consciousness based approach to healthcare helping to maintain balance and preserve health.
In Ayurveda, everything in the physical world is comprised of five elemental building blocks known as space, air, fire, water, and earth. Everything that exists in the external environment has its counterpart within each living being. Therefore, the characteristics of every substance we consume either serves to balance or aggravate the natural qualities of our constitutions. The three dosha types are vata, pitta, and kapha. Many people are not purely one dosha type, but fit predominately into one category and display secondary traits of another making up the body’s constitution.
What type are you? Read More…
Last week, the coordinators of the Anahata Food Project had our first meeting. We are excited to order seeds and get together for the first big work party of the season (Saturday, March 30 from noon to 2). We planned what we would grow and which extra projects to do this year.
Right after that meeting I was talking to a friend who had helped us a couple of years ago and she asked if we were still involved. I felt amazed and grateful that so many of us have been working together since the beginning of the garden. And that new people join us each year to add meaning and service to their already busy lives.
Then my friend imagined the huge impact we have had on the food pantries we serve. It is true that we have grown and delivered nearly 7 tons of organic produce since we started this project. And while 14,000 pounds of produce IS a lot, I’m not really sure of the impact. We grow and offer the food freely. In one pantry they divide up whatever food we bring so that most families get something fresh—sometimes only a quart of food per family, though at the height of the season it can be much more. And just because someone takes the food home does not mean it gets eaten. Turns out there are lots of hurdles to getting fresh vegetables into the bellies of low income families. Some don’t have gas or electricity to cook with. Others don’t have pots and pans or don’t know how to cook vegetables so that they are nutritious and delicious. Some families in need can’t even get to the food pantry for lack of transportation.
Still, there are many reasons that keep me inspired in what we are doing.
- It is so good for us! Getting outside, in the fresh air, doing the physical labor with friends (or soon to be friends) is pure joy. We can see the vast width of the sky and the weather patterns moving across it. We occasionally visited by Kevin’s chickens and can see his cows from the garden. There is a pond nearby that hosts migrating birds in the spring and fall and is home to many families of birds, frogs and fish during the summer. We are surrounded by the sounds of nature which act like a healing balm to my soul.
- It’s good for the people who are using the food pantries once they get the food! People who may not have access to good quality produce get some at least occasionally.
- The sense of working on behalf of others is a powerful tonic for the heart. This is where the word Anahata comes from; it is the Sanskrit word for heart center. It’s healthy for the volunteers beyond the obvious benefits of physical exercise. The caring that we experience toward others reminds us that they are really not “the other”—they are us. We value fresh, live, organic food so we do what we can to ensure everyone can have it.
- The magic of mattering. I like to think that the people in the pantry wonder about us the way we wonder about them. Who are these people spending so much time in the dirt working so hard, going far out of their way to bring some carrots and a bag of greens to them? I hope they feel a sense that they matter to us even when we haven’t met. For me this is part of the mystery of living this life together—we are connected—sometimes we can see it and feel it personally, other times we see the evidence before us—like a bag of greens.
Volunteer Details: if you would like to work with us regularly or even occasionally please join us on Saturday, March 30, from noon to 2:00p for our first work session—a “Come to the Garden Party,” as volunteer Ann Janiak is calling it. After that our main work day will be Sunday—we’ll meet earlier in the day as the temperature rises. Later in the season we’ll add a weekday morning session (either Tuesday or Wednesday) and a Thursday evening session as well. If you would like to volunteer, send me an email and I will add you to our list and you will received occasional emails with work dates and times. Marcia@yogaonhigh.com. I’ll also send you the farm’s address and location and my cell phone number in case you get lost. We are only 15 minutes west of downtown! Like us on Facebook or check out our webpage.
Have you heard of the term “made with love”?
I am sitting at the JFK airport at a little café. With few food choices at an airport I found what I thought was my best option -- a rice bowl that needed to be prepared by the deli chef. I stood at the counter for 5 minutes waiting patiently to be acknowledged while the staff member was busy doing this and that. Finally I asked if they were open for lunch. In an annoyed voice he grumbled yes. By this time more people had lined up behind me. I asked for my rice bowl and felt his increasing negativity. I thought to myself, wow, he must be having a bad day. Intent to lift the vibration and be joyful, I asked him a couple of friendly questions to make contact with him. I think he cracked a smile, but by this point I no longer wanted food the he prepared. I told him that I changed my mind and decided on the self-serve vegetarian soup. One person behind me decided to leave too.
This reminds me of something. When I was a little girl I used to make tea for my mother. She had tea in the English tradition, with milk and one sugar. It is a little bit of a science to add just the right amount of milk and sugar for the perfect taste. Sometimes, I made this for her rather reluctantly and with a bad attitude – like when your parents asked you clean your room – it was a chore. Other times I made it with love and gratitude. My mother could always tell and would smile and comment, “Oh, this is made with love”. On occasion, when I was being stroppy, she would make me go back and make it again and “with the right intention”. I was in my early teens when she would do this, but the lesson stuck. There is an energetic vibration in our emotions and actions. Our food carries this vibration too, and this vibration goes into the body. Food has prana (energy, life-force, chi) or it should! Much of the food we consume does not, but that is another topic in itself.
Have you ever noticed that when you are tired and cook the food tastes different then when you are enjoying the art of cooking? I believe being joyful and loving as you prepare and cook, your feelings go into the food and create a healthy and wholesome meal. I have gotten to a point where I know longer want to consume “dead or negative food”. I would much rather be a little hungry than eat food that does not “feel” good. More and more I am bringing my own food with me, and I have emergency snacks on hand. As we are become aware of the environmental impact of how we grow and handle food and of its nutritional value, we also need to be aware of how we prepare our food. This is catching on. Have you seen the labels that include “love” in the ingredients? I think they may be charging a dollar extra for this ingredient but I think it is a dollar I am willing to pay to continue to raise the consciousness on the planet.
Happy New Year! Linda Oshins captured Yoga on High’s year so well in her last blog. I am so happy to be part such an amazing organization, surrounded by such amazing Yogis. Life is sweet and 2012 was a great year.
As we go into 2013, I feel a strong pull towards releasing things of the past that do not serve my highest good anymore. Mindfulness and awareness are being shone directly (I am talking a commercial grade spotlight) on old habits and patterns that are no longer needed. Change is required and this is always a process. There is often some death in change. Something has to be given-up, tweaked, closed or opened in order to make way for the new. Oh, what to let go of first in 2013?
The lesson I share here is around mindfulness and slowing down while eating. Have you ever eaten something only to go back for another piece and it was all gone? You had actually eaten it and didn’t even notice. Well in my multitasking world (yes, I multi-task during eating) I have done this. In my last blog I wrote about my time in Kripalu. I mentioned I had many lessons on this transformative trip. In the early mornings at Kripalu we all eat breakfast in silence. On the first day, this was odd for me, but it forced me to bring my attention to eating. On the table they have a little informative flip chart that explains the silent breakfast something like this:
1. Think about where the food came from – farmers, truck drivers, chefs, waiters etc… and send blessings and gratitude to all those who helped serve you.
2. Eat one bite at a time. Put your knife and fork down in between each bite. Really taste the food. Eat slowly. Concentrate on the act of eating itself.
3. Notice your internal dialogue and make a choice to be present.
A simple lesson, yes. Something I already know, yes. But something I am terrible at doing. I get so engrossed in work or family activities sometimes I wish I could just take a pill and not have to eat. Other times I am so hungry because I have not eaten all day that I gobble the food up without my taste buds even having a chance to react. Such is the fast paced world we live in – often no time for digestion, integration and, often, connection. In truth, one of my worst habits is eating too fast and with no mindfulness. Yuck. How can I be a yogi and eat fast? Isn’t yoga about mindfulness and awareness in all we do on and off the mat?
Well, I have not made any new year’s resolutions but I have set an intention to be more mindful and slow down when eating. At my family dinner table I am always the first one finished. Although my husband and I set the example of saying prayers and blessings I set a terrible example for my daughter by wolfing down my food, only to get up and start doing my projects and duties. Now my personal prayer is to eat slowly and mindfully. Eating fast is a lifetime habit—a deeply grooved path. Have you ever had to change a bad habit in asana practice? The old habit is familiar and the new behavior has a weird foreign feel. You have to find comfort in the correction, do it enough times that you find a new place of ease while maintaining awareness.
It helps me to release non-serving habits by knowing the benefits of choosing a new direction:
1. Lose weight: eating more slowly allows your brain to register that you are full so you eat fewer calories.
2. Taste and enjoy your food: actually tasting your food helps digestion and releases endorphins. Eating small amounts of treats (dark chocolate, gourmet pizza, Jenni’s ice cream) can be easily handled by our body if we “savor the flavor”.
3. Better digestion: digestion starts in the mouth with your taste buds and chewing. Eating slowly supports digestion right from the beginning.
4. Develop mindfulness and lessen stress: make eating a mindfulness practice and see how this reduces stress in your body and lifestyle.
5. Support local food growers: what we eat and where we buy our food fuels the market. We need to be conscious consumers. If we don’t buy something, eventually it will no longer be sold.
Is anyone up for trying this with me this year? Oh, and if you see me eating fast, please nudge me – it is like breaking a bad habit in asana class. You need lots of reminders.