3 Recipes for Self-Nurturing (Strong Yoga® 4Women Fall/Winter 2014 Newsletter)
Generally speaking it falls upon the feminine energies to the cultivate gatherings, parties, and the family celebration events that surround the upcoming Winter months. This is true whether we are single, married, with or without children. The pressure of being Martha Stewart hovers over us like a carved jack-o-lantern, or a bundle of mistletoe saying “You aren’t DOING enough!”
If we take a cue from Mother Earth, as the Fall leaves start to turn color and the days get shorter, the vibrant energy of Summer begins to quiet and she invites us to turn inward toward BEING, in order to harvest our energies for the Winter months ahead.
However as women, when we try to honor this need, to tune in and cultivate our energies like Mother Earth, we are often challenged by demands at work and home that often extend well past sunset, harried holiday schedules, and the winds of changing weather patterns that blow us like the fall leaves this way and that. This swirling, ungrounded energy is reflected in the weather, and in our bodies.
Whether we want to nurture our bodies for a possible pregnancy or overall health and well being, we at Strong Yoga® 4Women invite you to carve out some time to honor yourself, with a few healthy practices that could keep the cold and flu season at bay and cultivate a deeper sense of connection and grounding to yourself and the inner world of spirit, intuition, calm and creativity; the world of BEING.
3 Recipes for Self Nurturing:
1. “Sitz Still”
With the change of weather and increased wind, taking a “sitz bath” in Epsom Salts can be a wonderful way to “warm the body” and “ground” your energy during seasonal changes. Bonus: Take a small handful of Epsom salts and rub them in a circular movement just below the bone at the base of the neck (just above the shoulder blades) to close the “Chinese Wind Gate” where we are more vulnerable to colds and flus during the winter months. Take time in the bath to breathe slowly and deeply using Ujayyi Pranayama to meditate on your breath.
2. Try incorporating Childs Pose into your daily practice.
I find that child’s pose is deeply impactful during this season when practiced before I am fully awake or right before I go to sleep. Folding inward upon your self, helps to calm the nervous system and evokes a deep inward gaze. With the forehead resting on the floor, the third eye, (our seat of intuition and inward gazing), is plugged into the earth, as if inviting the wisdom of mother earth right into our brains.
This helps to cultivate an internal listening to our more subtle rhythms and intuitive meassages in this season.
Bonus: I personally like to cover myself with a blanket or a throw to maintain heat. Pay close attention to the cycles of breath, particularly the pauses at the top of the inhale and bottom of the exhale. If you want a more “heart opening” child’s pose, the arms can be extended over head, or if you want to focus more on cultivating fertility, you can use the fertility ball placed at the abdomen to release low back tension and stimulate more circulation to the reproductive organs. Whatever you choose, tune in to the cycles of the breath and let this pose nurture you.
*Childs pose has always reminded me of a seed. Curling up tight, we store energy for growth, but remain very alive with the potentiality of the full tree like an acorn.
What I love to do, is go into child’s pose and then after I feel I have maximized the benefit of the pose, (pre or post bed), I’ll sit up in a meditative stance on my heels and allow the blanket to continue to give me warmth around my shoulders while my hips rest on my ankles. I like placing my hands in a Mudra of thumbs touching and palms folded inside one another, creating the shape of the moon at the pelvis.
This invokes the divine feminine energies and connects the two hemispheres of the body.
Fall is about harvesting and sustaining our energy for the colder months of Winter ahead. In addition to these simple daily practices, please look for warming foods, like this vibrant soup recipe to nourish you from the inside out, rather than the cold salads of summer.
3. Fall Harvest Vegetable Soup with Coconut
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or any other favorite cooking oil – olive oil is even fine)
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup each turnip, sweet potato, and pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 ½ teaspoons each ground cinnamon and ginger (I prefer to chop up fresh ginger instead – as much as you like!)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 table spoon chopped scallion
5 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup creamed coconut (or coconut milk)
Freshly chopped coriander or parsley to garnish
In a large saucepan, heat the oil, add the onion, and cook it gently for 4 – 5 minutes.
Add the cubed vegetables and toss them over medium heat for a further 5 – 6 minutes.
Add the marjoram, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the scallion, stock, almonds, chili pepper, and sugar, and simmer gently for 10 – 15 minutes until the veggies are tender. Check the seasoning.
Grate the coconut into the soup (or pour the coconut milk in) and stir well. Sprinkle with garnish and serve.
This soup is one of my favorites for the holiday season and very easy to make. It actually tastes even better in days following, as all the spices begin to ‘marry.’ ☺