Autumn officially arrives Friday September 22 at 10:02am ET/1:02pm PT, and darkness begins to dominate in the Northern Hemisphere. Acknowledging this shift, and choosing practices which align with nature's rhythms supports our overall health and well being.Read More
How to Eat Healthier Tip 3: Eat your biggest meal at lunch. Digestion is strongest in the middle of the day, so from a physiological perspective, it makes sense to eat the largest meal at that time. If your work schedule causes you to rush through lunch or just grab a quick bite, you may become hungry again in just a couple of hours later, and by mid afternoon, need to eat again. So are you really saving much time?Read More
Sit down and be aware of WHAT you’re eating. Acknowledge the WHERE of your food. With gratitude, connect with its origins, and who picked, delivered and prepared it.
Digestion is more efficient when we’re focused on our food. We think we’re getting more done while multitasking, but in fact our digestion suffers. Pause and take a few breaths before you begin the meal.Read More
Feel your breathing and tap into the sensations of each inhale and exhale. Begin to count your breaths without changing anything else. This practice alone may help you fall asleep more rapidly by giving your mind a repetitive taskRead More
Not only are screens (computers, tvs, smartphones, tablets) disruptive to our biological sleep patterns, but they stimulate brain activity, which interferes with our ability to notice when we’re actually tiredRead More
There are a number of habitual reasons that we don’t notice when we’re tired at night. Number one is relying on stimulants like sugar and caffeine in the morning and throughout the day in order to fight feelings of fatigue.Read More
Sleep is essential to our health. Yet it's often the first thing we cut back on when we're busy. We think, or rationalize that there's no time to sleep more, and that sleeping takes time away from other things we need to do, or that we'd rather be doing.Read More
In Part One, we covered what to eat and drink to help you stay cool. As we draw closer to the peak of summer heat, we’ll dive into additional practices to manage this month’s temperatures.
Take a footbath in the evening. After showering to cool off at the end of a hot day, soak your feet in the bathtub or a basin of cool water with a few drops of essential oil such as lavender, peppermint, spearmint, or rose. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes, and as your feet cool off, so will your entire body.
Put your legs up the wall. Sit on the floor with your hips touching the wall and knees bent. As you lift your legs up the wall, lie down, and swing your back so it’s perpendicular to the wall. Legs can be straight, or knees bent with the soles of your feet touching. This restorative yoga posture is almost magical with its profoundly relaxing effects. Legs up the wall is a perfect pose at the end a hot summer day, or right before bed, to cool off and promote a good night’s sleep.
Avoid midday sun and exercising in the heat of the late afternoon and evening. If you’re a driven, fiery individual you might be inclined to exercise at the same time you regularly do. I’m always surprised when I see runners in the blazing afternoon sun, sweating buckets. The body cannot effectively cool itself under these stressful conditions, which can lead to major systemic imbalances. Instead, consider a swim, a (non-heated) yoga class if you know the studio has fans, or switching your outdoor exercise to the cooler, early morning hours.
Loosen up! Heat expands, and tight shoes and clothing begin to feel tighter and constricting later on, generating even more discomfort. Wear looser, lighter colors and breathable fabrics. There’s a practical reason why white clothing is popular in the summer: it reflects the heat instead of absorbing it.
Slow down. When summer is blazing hot, be less rigid about your schedule and make more space. Leave additional time for what you need to do and getting where you need to be. Being rushed, and getting upset or frustrated ignites more heat; that’s why an angry person is called hotheaded. Simply take a few deep inhales and exhales to keep your cool, and to respond rather than react.
It’s easy to discover your dosha, or Ayurvedic constitution via this online quiz. But it’s also possible to think about what season you prefer, and if you’d rather be snow skiing or swimming at the beach. Do you love to stay at home, or to travel? These are all clues to what elements are predominant in our life, and how we can stay in balance.
3. Skip the hot spices and peppers, which create too much heat in the digestive tract. In summer, stick with cooling raw vegetables and fruits which naturally have a high water content, especially cucumbers and melons.
5. Bring on the greens. Focus on eating and juicing plenty of leafy greens including spinach, kale, Swiss Chard, parsley, cilantro, bok choy and wild greens like dandelion, nettles, lambs quarters and purslane. Leafy greens have cooling properties, which help the body stay balanced. When in doubt, stick with what’s available at the local farmer’s market. Nature always provides what’s needed for the seasonal weather to help our body prepare for what’s ahead.
The sun has really warmed things up in SoCal as we approach the solstice. I've been playing with home made frozen treats in the vitamix, a high powered blender that whips frozen fruit into a creamy non dairy dessert with no ice cream maker needed. A regular blender should work too, just defrost the frozen fruit a bit first. This recipe is super simple with just two ingredients.
- 3/4 cup frozen organic mangos
- 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
Blend the fruit and coconut milk together, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender when needed. Add additional coconut milk, one tablespoon at a time as needed. Serve immediately.
All varieties of organic frozen fruits will yield delicious non dairy treats without added sugar, but bananas and mangos become super creamy when blended. Let me know what fruits you use!
Since offering the first Reset and Renew online wellness program in September 2012, hundreds of participants have benefited, and many make it a regular practice twice a year. Feedback during and after the programs tout participants’ improved sleep, renewed energy, and awareness of the effect of foods on physical and emotional health. Reset and Renew participants cultivate self-care practices and daily routines which improve their health and well being on an ongoing basis.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of cleanses and programs available. I’ve participated in many of them myself. Some are even free, so why pay to do a program at all? I have tons of personal experiences to share from the past fifteen years of cleansing, but the biggest benefit of participating in a group program is the support of a community. On group forums and webinars, you’ll connect with others going through the same process. By sharing personal victories as well as slips, being accountable, asking questions, offering guidance and being vulnerable, you’re part of a group of like-minded individuals.
Remember why you’re participating in a program in the first place. Do you want to sleep better? Would you like to release excess weight from the winter? Do you want to experience more energy and less lethargy in the mornings? Could your digestion use some improvement? When you get clear about intentions and share them with a community of supportive people interested in the same for themselves, it makes all the difference in the world. Investing your hard-earned money to improve your health and well-being also helps with accountability and commitment.
One of the challenges in participating in a program to improve your health is that friends, family and co-workers aren’t doing the same thing! They’re going about their normal routines, and eating and drinking regularly. It’s common to feel self-conscious when you’re on a program. Without being accountable to a group, it’s easier to stray from guidelines or even drop out. It’s simpler just to follow the masses when you don’t have support from others who are currently in the same boat. Plus, when you’ve made a financial investment, you’re more likely to take a program seriously; to really dive in. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of money, right?
For over fifteen years, I’ve been cleansing. The first few years, I was totally on my own, and didn’t know anyone who’d ever done a cleanse. I was confused about specifics, didn’t feel great, and when a special occasion took place, I’d just go off the program, forgoing the consequences. If I tried to get back on track, it was never with the same precision as before the event. I believe I could have experienced even greater benefits those first few years if I’d had group support.
In contrast, when cleansing within a community, when I’ve shared my slip ups, I received encouragement to return to the program, forgive myself, and continue to do my best. I’ve learned strategies on how to successfully handle special events, and insights about myself through others and their own experiences.
When you’re part of a community you’re interacting with dozens of others and you’ll receive encouraging responses and helpful suggestions from not just me, but those of have a variety of experiences. You learn you’re not alone, and will get wonderful ideas of what to eat and how to take care of yourself throughout a group program.
I warmly invite you to join the Spring Reset and Renew online community! We begin with a week of preparation on April 19. Please email at marjorienass@gmail if you have additional questions.
Add more greens into your glass, plate and bowl.
Preparing healthy food for oneself is an act of self care. Eating more greens, just like moving your body in the morning, is a good year round practice, but especially important in Springtime. By eating nature’s local seasonal bounty, we take in what the earth produces in our ecosystem.
Ensure there is GREEN in more of your meals.
According to Ayurveda, the taste of greens is bitter, which helps us to clear out the excess waste (and excess weight) that's accumulated over the winter months. The bitter taste helps to balance the elements of earth and water, whose heavy, dense and cool qualities predominate in early Spring. Eating more bitter greens retrains our palates from our Western Diet's predominant sweet and salty tastes. Try varieties of lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and bok choy. Wild greens, including lamb’s quarters, dandelion greens and nettles are often at farmer’s markets, so express your interest if you don't find them. These wild greens contain a denser nutrient value than cultivated greens.
Spring vegetables include artichoke, asparagus, fennel, spring onions, green beans, snap peas and snow peas. Young greens first appear as sprouts and shoots, which contain a highly concentrated nutrient value. Sprouts can be added atop most any dish or even blended into smoothies.
Drink your greens:
Start your day with an early Spring green smoothie for breakfast.
- Start with one to two cups water depending on the thickness you prefer
- Add 2-3 cups leafy greens: parsley, Swiss chard, dandelions, spinach, kale or lettuce, (Keep in mind: the darker the green, the stronger the taste.)
- Steaming greens (and all veggies) before blending makes them easier to digest.
- One peeled large citrus fruit like grapefruit or orange.(use two oranges if they're small)
- 1/4-1/2 avocado
- 2-3 tablespoons of soaked chia or flax seeds. Hemp seeds can also be used but don't require soaking.
Enjoy the smoothie at room temperature. Cold, icy drinks are difficult to digest.
Take a few deep breaths before drinking, and savor your smoothie.
Eat your greens:
Enjoy a large leafy green salad as a base for roasted vegetables at any meal. Make greens the mainstay when adding animal protein (preferably the best quality you can find). More farmer's markets are carrying ethically raised, sustainably sourced poultry and meat.
Simple sautéed leafy greens take just a few minutes to prepare. Use this as a basic blueprint, but add additional veggies or spices for endless variations.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil, ghee or grass fed butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat.
- Sautée one cup chopped onions, shallots, or leeks for 5-7 minutes.
- Add a cup of sliced mushrooms
- Season with salt and pepper
- Add one to two bunches of greens, washed, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped
- Continue to sautée the greens in the onion/mushroom mixture.
- Add a few tablespoons of water, or bone broth, cover and steam several minutes.
- Taste, and season again.
- Optional: Add balsamic vinegar or coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative) to deepen the flavor
- Optional: Add toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds(pepitas) for an added crunch
Drink your greens at lunch or dinner:
- Have a simple green soup with dinner, using leafy greens as a base.
- Blend celery, fennel and avocado, and seasonings of your choice with vegetable broth, bone broth or water.
- Thai curry paste is an easy way to add more zing to your living green soups.
- Add a crunch with toasted pine nuts, pecans or pumpkin seeds.
Have fun experimenting in the kitchen as more Spring produce becomes available at the farmer’s market.
Please let me know your favorite recipes using greens. And join us for the upcoming Reset and Renew Online Program starting April 19. Sign up to be notified when registration opens.
Over the winter, most of us spend a majority of time indoors in the Northern Hemisphere, simply because darkness dominates. In our Western culture, we are already sedentary to begin with, and in wintertime this excess results in stagnation in the body. In order to stay balanced moving into the Spring, we must cultivate qualities that release the winter accumulation.
Ayurveda, the science of life, presents that everything is some combination of the five elements; Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. In Autumn, Air and Space elements begin to dominate, with the qualities of variability, mobility(wind), dryness, and cold, which continue through winter.
As the days lengthen after Winter Solstice, the sun warms the atmosphere, melting snow and softening the earth. By winter’s end, an excess of water element can also build up within our bodies and throw our health off balance. This can appear as a runny nose from Spring allergies, the flu or a cold, or even a stomach upset. Feeling heavy or lethargic, and experiencing difficulty awakening, are symptoms of an excess of earth element, which appears stagnant, dense and cool.
The key to achieving balance year round is to cultivate the elements which contain opposite qualities of the present season. Especially in Springtime, starting the day with movement (air element) fires up the body’s circulation and brain function as it jump starts metabolism. Regularity and consistency of movement is key, and moving outdoors ideal, as daylight helps optimize our circadian rhythms, which govern hormones regulating sleep.
Here are some suggestions for getting moving early in the day.
- Get outside for a walk, even for a few minutes.
- If you like to run, but generally do so for longer periods of time, add short sprints.
- Run up and down your apartment stairs, or outdoor stadium steps.
- Sun salutations. Set a specific number. Since we’re in the middle of the month, add the numerals of the date. ie, March 20 = two sun salutations, March 21 = three sun salutations, and so on. On March 29, you’ve built up to eleven sun salutations!
Look for additional tips to Lighten up this Spring in the next couple of weeks. Until then, please comment below and let me know how you’ve added movement to start your day.
This method will help to avoid fatigue early next week:
Makes four to six servings.
Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
One large butternut squash (or two small)
- 2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
- 2-3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- one can organic coconut milk. Make your own coconut milk by blending two cups water with one tablespoon organic coconut butter!
- salt and pepper to taste
- Roast a butternut squash. Treat it like two separate vegetables when preparing to roast. Cut off the bulb of the vegetable, and scoop out the flesh and seeds. Halve the other, oblong part of the squash. Roast flesh facing down in a half inch of water, for one hour at 375 degrees, or until you can easily pierce the squash. Let cool, scoop out the flesh from the skin and set aside.
Heat butter or ghee and sautee the leeks for 5-7 minutes in a soup pot.
Add nutmeg, then butternut squash and broth. Cook for 10 more minutes.
Either use an immersion blender to puree or transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Add the coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste, and blend again.
I'm often asked about Golden Milk, a traditional Ayurvedic remedy. It's a nourishing, warming drink to help promote a good night's sleep. When at Blue Spirit Costa Rica leading the Yoga and Wellness Rejuvenation Retreats, I was delighted they offered it at the cafe this year, and I had it most evenings on my way down to bed.
In a saucepan, warm 1/2 to one cup organic unsweetened almond or coconut milk, or grass fed milk if you tolerate dairy.
Add 1/8 teaspoon each: organic turmeric powder, powdered ginger and cinnamon.
Optional - add 1/2 teaspoon raw honey (add when the milk is cool enough to drink. Do NOT t boil raw honey).
A shortcut is to make a batch of this Immunity Paste (which you can take on its own as well). Blend 1/2 teaspoon paste in 1/2 cup to one cup unsweetened organic coconut or almond milk.
Into 1/2 cup raw local honey, blend the following spices and store in a glass jar:
- 4-5 tablespoons organic ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon organic ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.
OR Take 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture on its own.
Want to learn more ways for Simply Healthy Living? Join the Facebook Group where I broadcast live every Thursday at 7:30pmET/4:30pm PT.
Ready for a Simple Yet Powerful Reset for Spring? The Reset and Renew Online Group Program is April 19-May 11 and will open for registration soon . Get on the list to be the first to know.
The darkest, longest nights of the year occur just prior to the Winter Solstice, when, upon its arrival December 21st, the light begins to return. Since the Summer Solstice back in June, days have shortened, and nights have lengthened. Although the winter season still lies ahead, this portion of the year and ever shortening daylight is likened to the earth’s exhale. The Solstice itself represents the gap between the bottom of the earth's exhale and the beginning of the inhale. After the Winter Solstice, each subsequent day in the Northern Hemisphere lengthens until the Summer Solstice on June 20th, 2017.
On the days just prior to the Winter solstice, there is a gap, a space, where the sun no longer appears to be getting lower in the southern sky as it moves from East to West. It seems that the sun remains at its southernmost, lowest point, and that there's no movement from day to day at all. This where we get the word solstice (sun, still). After the Solstice, In the Northern Hemisphere each day is a bit lighter, and for the next six months, the sun appears higher and higher in the sky,. Being sensitive to nature’s rhythms, by mid-January I notice the subtle shifts of more light each day, as we head closer to spring and the Vernal Equinox March 20th.
I was neither attuned to the rhythms of nature, nor the Solstices and Equinoxes before I began practicing yoga. I experienced November and December as the most difficult months of the year, as my mood reflected the darkness of the season. Aligning with nature's seasonal, daily and monthly rhythms has helped to ceate more balance and ease in all areas of my life. This essential part of yoga lives within the wisdom of Ayurveda. Translated as knowledge of life, the healing science of yoga is essential for anyone who lives in a body. When we observe and acknowledge that at this time of year there is a limited amount of daylight, we can take simple steps to help access the inner light, the tejas, the flame that’s always present within us.
Six Steps to Find Balance During the Darkest Time of the Year:
- Light candles as soon as it becomes dark in the evening
- Upon arising in the darkness in the morning, light a candle, and begin few minutes of meditation, breath practices, or gentle yoga postures.
- Eat during the hours of daylight, as the strength of digestion is correlated with the times the sun is highest in the sky. Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day.
- Take a walk in the daylight hours, headed south, towards the sun whenever possible, in order to attune with the rhythms of nature.
- Head to bed earlier. Turn off electronics an hour before you plan to go to sleep, to promote deep rest and relaxation.
- Before bed, give yourself a foot massage using organic oil (sesame oil is a good choice in the winter months as it is warming), to help draw energy down from your mind and into your body. This relaxing ritual will help you to sleep more soundly. Put on socks so the oil stays on your feet and off your sheets.
The darkness during December is a time of moving inwards, of contemplation, and planning for the upcoming year. How do you want to feel in 2017? (Use this time to create an intention for the New Year). I wish you a happy Winter Solstice! Please share your practices for this time of year in the comments, below.
This weekend, a unique opportunity awaits if you’ve been trying to create a habit of rising earlier. It’s time to “Fall Back” when Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday November 6 at 2am ET. For many people, this means enjoying that elusive extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning. It gets darker earlier starting Sunday evening, as we “gain” the extra hour of light in the morning. Days continue to shorten until the winter Solstice on December 21st.
Returning to standard time can be a huge opportunity if you’re trying to arise earlier in the morning. What will you do with that extra hour? It can be an ideal time for health promoting practices like meditation, yoga, and breathing.
Instead of using the extra hour to catch up on your sleep, get up at your typical time on Sunday. If you usually awaken at 7:30am, it will actually be 6:30am "new time". Stick with that time and receive the gift of an entire extra hour every single day. What will you do with an extraordinary 7 hours a week, and 30 hours in a month! If we look at it as “found” time, it means you can rush less, take more time to do things that are important to you, and more taking care of yourself.
If you continue to go to sleep at the same time as before "Fall Back", this strategy won’t be effective, because you’ll be trying to get by on an hour less sleep. Instead, start your evening routine on the earlier side as well. This will be easier over the next few days around the time change, because you’ll be tired earlier. The earlier sunset will be a cue to your body that it’s time to start winding down. Stay in tune, and listen to your body’s messages.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and just do your best, Instead of resisting your body’s messages, honor them, and go to sleep at what was your “old” bedtime (before the time change) as best you can. And instead of sleeping the hour away Sunday morning, use the hour for something you really enjoy!
Number 3: Just like WHEN and HOW you eat, WHERE you eat affects digestion, and overall health and well being. Sit down while eating.
HOW you eat makes a difference, and within that, you’ll notice WHERE you eat is important. Without making time to sit down and eat, you’re liable to gobble the food wherever you are; standing, driving, or on the subway. Although I now live in San Diego, I still use my half century as a New Yorker for reference. If we’re not sitting and eating, we’re in fight or flight mode, period, and healthy digestion is impossible. Creating an optimal space WHERE you eat may require planning, but it’s a simple, (albeitnot easy), habit to improve your overall health and well being.
For most of us, eating while at the computer or TV, reading, or scrolling through social media is the norm, just like the woman pictured below. As I wrote in the HOW of eating, if we're not focused on the food, our body doesn't receive the message it's being nourished, and cannot digest, absorb and assimilate optimally. We'll often feel hungry soon after eating.
Do you give yourself permission to take the time to eat or is the rushing self imposed?
By prioritizing meals and slowing down, we feel better, which ultimately CREATES more time. But
you eat will often dictate
It's best to avoid eating in the same spot you're usually doing something else,
because we're reminded we need to get back to the task at hand. This bad habit is one I've struggled with since moving into my new apartment in La Jolla. I prefer working at the table in my main living space, because of the light. Since it's also near the kitchen, I began to eat there too, and found myself rushing. It's an ongoing process, but I now enjoy more of my meals at a table outside, which I'm lucky enough to be able to do most of the time!
Be creative and make small, simple shifts:
- Swivel your chair around so you're facing away from the desk and computer.
- Make a plan with a friend or colleague for a meal away from the office.
- Eat outside, weather permitting, or inside at a community space or cafeteria.
- Eat while seated, at a table. You'll naturally slow down and be more present to the HOW of eating.
- Avoid eating while driving. If you're pressed for time, at least stop the car.
- Give yourself the time to eat and focus on the food. Chewing and swallowing is essential to create the environment the body needs to absorb and assimilate food.
Remember, it’s NOT what we do occasionally that matters as much as what we do most of the time that affects our health and well being.