Meditation practice promotes creativity, happiness, better memory, peace, love, self control and success. As change must begin within, meditation plays a vital role.
"Meditation is no longer mysticism. It’s not new-age mumbo jumbo there have been six or seven hundred studies showing this is very, very good for the human being." - David Lynch.
While moving house recently I came across a ragged, flimsy A5 book titled:
'Illustrations on Yoga. Absorption in Bliss'.
It is a small travel relic I picked up in India many moons ago, and it is filled with straight forward insights into Yoga, Love and Consiousness. The illustrations are also a hoot.
As I haven’t written any posts for a while, I thought today I would share some insights on ‘Why Yoga’ from this book. Enjoy!
Every person in the world aspires for happiness and peace. These goals have in fact, less to do with material objects and more to do with states of mind. Moreover, there is another kind of experience: BLISS, the highest experience, independent of worldly objects and senses. If there’s one thing you should practice yoga for, it is bliss. Bliss is a ‘super-sensuous’ joy that enables a person to break free from habits and addictions. The relaxation achieved, in turn leaves a yogi with less worries, fears and spoilt relationships. It lets calmness blossom.
* BEHAVIOURAL TRANSFORMATION
Further, yoga brings about a behavioural transformation without any therapy! The thoughts and ‘mind-calm’ achieved through yoga and meditation work like mental surgery. Positive virtues are planted in place of negative traits. Outlooks change and in-toe, bad habits loosen their grip. That surging energy in your body is now used for constructive and useful work.
These changes bring about an overall blossoming of one’s personality. Shyness is replaced by a feeling of confidence; a connection and understand of you body and mind and it’s place in the world. All this goes a long way to improve relationships with others. This new confidence and happiness, brings about fulfilment. A yogi is someone who is in harmony with Nature, at peace with his own self, in concord with others and in unison with the Creator. His mind is not in conflict.
Article By: Heather Cappie-Wood
A healthy alternative to add to smoothies, tea, or over your muesli.
Raw Almond Milk
1 cup almonds (or any nut you like - Brazil nuts are pretty good too)
3 cups pure water
a pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 medjool date
1. Rinse and soak the nuts in pure water over night or for 8hrs.
2. Drain the water from the nuts and rinse again. Add to the blender.
3. Add in 3 cups of pure water and the salt.
4. Blend until smooth. Drain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, cheese cloth or a nut milk bag.
5. Add the now pulp-free milk back to your blender with a date and the vanilla extracts. Blend again until smooth and enjoy!
Do more than belong: participate
Do more than care: help
Do more than believe: practice
Do more than be fair: be kind
Do more than forgive: forget
Do more than dream: work
"Look inside yourself. Everything that you want, you already are."
Photograph by Nik Thorup
• Eat only when you are hungry. That is to say, when your previous meal has been completely digested. Sometime we might think that we are hungry, however, it could only be that we are dehydrated. Be in tune with your body and re-discover how it feels to be really hungry.
• Eat in a calm and comfortable place. Sit down when you eat and eat with as little distraction as possible: no tv, no book, no phone, no laptop…
• Eat the right quantity. We are all different, with different needs and different stomach size and metabolic speed. Listen to your body and eat only to point when you feel satisfied.
• Eat warm meals. Ideally freshly cooked but as long as you avoid anything coming out straight from the fridge you’ll preserve your digestive power (Agni). This allows your digestive enzymes to work efficiently.
• Eat quality food. Make sure that your meal is juicy or a little oily as this will facilitate digestion and improve nutrient absorption. Avoid foods which are too dry.
• Be present when you eat. Use all your 5 senses. Take time to appreciate the smell of your meal, the look of your plate, the texture of your food, the different flavors, and the sounds that you make when you eat.
• Don’t eat fast. Don’t just swallow your food, take your time to chew. Chewing is an essential step of digestion.
• Eat at regular times. Nature likes cycles and regularity so you should abide!
Photo By Heather Cappie-Wood
Do not overlook tiny good actions, thinking they are of no benefit;
even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel.
Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small;
however small a spark may be, it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain.
- The Buddha
Photo by Heather Cappie-Wood
2) Peaches: This fruit is a fantastic super food. Peaches include phytonutrients that give you healthier skin and help fight cancer. They also have a natural sedative that can help reduce stress and anxiety. Plus, since they are sweet, they can work wonders when you need that sugary treat.
3) Acacia berries: This superfood that should not be ignored. The acacia berry has phytonutrients that have been shown to enhance your mood. They have additional health benefits, such as leveling your blood sugar which therefore reduces sugar cravings.
4) Cacao: Raw cacao is the ingredient found in chocolate. It is high in flavonoids. Flavonoids are potent with relaxation properties. It also contains phenethylamine, a chemical that enhances mood. You can add raw cacao to your smoothies, your macaroons or you can get the nutrients by eating a dark chocolate bar. The darker the chocolate, the more of these substances you are getting. Generally, opt for bars with 70% cacao or higher.
5) Maca root: Maca root is a powder made from a Peruvian root and can be found in certain supplements and drink mixes. Maca root, in its unprocessed form, contains a phytonutrient that helps ward off anxiety and depression. Some studies have found that maca root is just as useful at fighting depression as prescription antidepressants, since it contains so many mood enhancing nutrients. Another plus is that maca root is natural and does not have as many of the risks and side effects prescription anxiety medication. Maca root powder can be made into a tea or sprinkled over other foods to give you the maximum health benefits. You actually need very little—I add half a teaspoon to my smoothies.
6) Spinach: This lean, green leaf is high in magnesium, improves your body’s overall response to stress and stops your blood pressure from spiking.
7) Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds contain a high source of folate, which help your body produce the feel-good brain chemical, dopamine. Normal levels of dopamine help control of your emotional responses.
8) Walnuts: It has been shown that eating at least one ounce of walnuts a day can prevent your blood pressure from rising and keep your anxiety levels in check. If you tend to have higher levels of adrenaline and anxiety, make sure you get some of these delicious nuts into your diet so you’re not make your heart work more than it needs to. Walnuts can be a great addition to any salad or salad dressing.
Are you feeling that mid-week, post long-weekend sluggishness?
Are your eyes get drowsy around 4pm?
Or are you just feeling a little blue?
If you thought ‘yes’ to 1 or more of the above questions then you are in dire need of a backbend-induced bliss –fix!
But how can a simple backbend equal bliss? It’s simple really:
INCREASED ENERGY + OPEN HEART + SUPPLE SPINE
= GUARANTEED BLISS
Backbends turn the body out to face the world from a new perspective.
They are heart opening and energizing. A huge emotional release is felt and you are given a rare chance to stretch out your chest, stomach, arms and shoulders – a counter posture to the ‘hunched-over desk-asana’ most of us practice religiously each day.
Opening your heart wide and cracking open that love jar will fill you with courage and help to combat depression. This posture is scarily rejuvenating, grounding and stabilizing.
Not only are backbends advantageous for lifting our emotions, but they also bless our bodies with physical benefits such as making the spine super strong and supple. They increase strength in the arms and shoulders and tone the leg muscles. The digestive system gets a good stretch out while the nervous system is also stimulated, building heat and stimulating metabolism. But wait! There’s more! Back-bends stimulate the lymphatic system, pumping lymphatic fluids, by opening the chest, armpits and groin where lymph nodes and glands are located.
Everyone can reap the benefits of a backbend! There are variations for beginner yoginis to advanced yogis, and everyone in between.
The Wheel Pose is a great backbend to aim for which will induce mega bliss benefits. But for softer, gentler poses you could also try Camel or Bridge pose.
Remember! Breathe through each posture, be careful and calm and never push your self too far.
For a simple, super cosmic way to start the morning, just place a few pillows or a bolster behind your back, placed at your sit bone running behind your spine, and lay down, with you legs straight out in front or with your feet together and knees unfurled in a butterfly posture.
Let your chest stretch open, let your arms fall softly beside you, palms facing up and soaking up all the good energy. Take a few deep breathes, visualizing the new, fresh breathe filling you with light and each exhale removing toxins and unwanted thoughts.
Buzz with cosmic bliss today and everyday because that’s what you were born to do.
Words & Photograph By Heather Cappie-Wood
Okay I’ll admit it… during my first few yoga classes as a teenager, everyone chanting ‘Aum/Om’ made me get the giggles… And yes, I was asked to leave once.. Understandably.
I had no idea why we were doing it? All I could do was laugh out of confusion.
It was a strange step out of my comfort zone in our busy western world.
Yoga is know all over the world, but is often misunderstood.
Everybody has their own definition, based on the benefits they gain from their practice.
Essentially, Yoga is all about connecting the mind and body. It is a union of the you that you think you are, and the you that you really are.
Once we look beyond just the physical benefits, the mental effects are wonderous!
And in our stress filled, busy, rushed lifestyles, I think that it’s pretty darn important to take some time to bliss out and become in tune with yourself again.
When you begin to feel that connection, the meaning of ‘Aum/Om’ makes a lot more sense.
You’ll be singing it in class or in the shower till the cows come home!
‘Aum’ on it’s own
One of the most powerful parts of the word, is the vibration is creates, especially when done with a group of people.
The vibration of ‘Aum/Om’ is the reflection of the absolute reality, without beginning or end and embracing everything that exists; the breathe of the Supreme, world soul, the past, present and future and everything that transcends time.
When broken into it’s 3 letters, A-U-M embodies the divine energy (Shakti), together with it’s 3 main characteristics;
1. Bhrahma Shakti (creation),
2. Vishnu Shakti (preservation)
3. Shiva Shakti (liberation and/or destruction)
Chanting 3 Aum’s?
Chanting 3 ‘Aum’s at the start and/or end of the class unites us all and is often thought to combat 3 sources of suffering:
In Hinduism and Yoga, the mantra of ‘Aum’ is considered with high spiritual and creative power.
When we chant ‘Aum’, we bring down peace and light from above and create a universal harmony within and outside of us.
Some say that the power of ‘Aum’ changes darkness to light, ignorance to knowledge and death into immortality.
It aids in the removal of distractions and makes the mind serene, peaceful and focused. An old dusty yoga book of mine suggests: “When depressed, try chanting ‘Aum’ 50 times. To increase purity, chant ‘Aum’ 500 times.”
What’s not to love?
By Heather Cappie-Wood
You know that delicious feeling you get when spring starts to unfurl and curl its balmy breeze through your curtains? You suddenly get the urge to clean your room of any dust, de-clutter, organize and start a-fresh. Your colourful summer clothes find their way into your wardrobe and all you want to do is cook fresh foods, buy flowers and lizard around in the suns forgotten rays. MMmhhmmm It’s pretty scrumptious ain’t it?
These feelings are also a mirror for what’s going on inside your body. All those fresh energies flowing among your veins urging you to make your spaces clean and new. After a few months of hibernation, hiding under wooly clothes and comfort foods, your body craves some airing out too!
In the winter time we naturally try to conserve energy, warmth and food and thus not move around too much or make too much effort to clean the cobwebs out of our home (and body). Its understandable then that our detoxing organs; the liver and kidneys, would slow down a little bit too.
Yuck! I hear you thinking, but never fear! Spring always appears in the nick of time to freshen things up again. Flowers are blossoming, lush green veggies are in season and you start to crave fresh salads and long walks. The great thing is that your body can jump on the bandwagon of energy to give your insides a good spring clean.
The earth’s pretty good in that it provides everything we need, right when we need it! There are veggies and herbs that grow naturally in Spring, which – without having to fast, or restrict ourselves from any food - assist our body in ridding itself or waste, toxins and any excess fats (I’m looking at you warm winter casserole/mulled wine lovers).
Spring is the season associated with liver, kidneys and gall bladder (these are the organs linked with removing toxins from the body on a daily basis). So now is the best time to wash them clean so they can do their jobs properly.
* Chose a quiet week where you can get plenty of rest. Detox can sometimes be uncomfortable as the body is ridding itself of toxins, you may experience some headaches or sleepyness – its normal! Its good! It means all the crappy things are leaving and after its all done you’ll feel squeaky clean.
* Detox can last anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks, and you can always incorporate some of the good habits into your daily routine.
1. ELIMINATE STRESS
Detoxing needs to be worked at mentally as well as physically, as it is the mind and thoughts that drive us to be excessive with our body.
It’s therefore important during a detox (and always) to eliminate all sources of stress from the mind.
* Meditation and Yoga are natural stress relieves that work like a charm. Make an effort to go to one class each day. Get those creaky bones working smooth as honey again.
House of Yoga, Redfern offers a $25, 2 week unlimited pass! You can try Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Anti-gravity and more.
Or you can always do some Karma Yoga by helping out at the studio for an hour, in return for a free class.
* Acupuncture. Oh my golly it’s good. It uses tiny needles placed in precise spots around the body to stimulate and open the flow of energy around the body.
With benefits such as stress reduction, improved health, emotional balance and insomnia relief, not to mention that floaty feeling you get afterwards, it’s perfect to include it in your detox. Sydney has some great Community Accupuncture treatments for only $25.
2. FEED YOUR BODY
Detox isn’t about depriving yourself or giving up what you love, but instead about consuming what your body really needs. Think about it like your body is one of those little flowers blossoming, you dont want to drown it in water, nor give it no water at all, but just the right amount of nourishment, water and sunlight to let it unfurl its colourful petals to the world.
* Drink more water. It’s the key to all life on our cozy little planet. Try drinking about 2 litres per day to help flush out toxins and general gunk. Start the day with a warm glass of water with a bit of fresh lemon squeezed in. Sour tasting foods promote liver health and function and the warm water helps to stimulate and condition a sluggish liver.
* Eat seasonal fruit and veggies. Eating foods that are in season encourages us to live and eat the way nature intended us to. Try to include Spring fruit and veggies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Raw and steamed veggies are the healthiest option
Fruits for Spring:
Lemons, Mandarins, Oranges, Grapefruit, Apples, Cherries
Veggies for Spring:
Sweet Potato, Artichoke, Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Fennel, Beetroot, Silverbeet, Spinach, Mushrooms
Herbs for Spring:
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): helps detox the liver.
Tumeric (Curcuma longa): Protects the liver from toxic chemicals, helps prevent gallstones, and has shown to reduce cancer-causing agents in the body. You can also make a pretty delicious curry with it.
* What to avoid. Cut out meat, dairy (a diet free of animal products is naturally cholesterol free), alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and limit the intake or bread, cakes, pasta.
* When to eat. Try to eat earlier in the day, this will give the digestive system some time to rest at night.
3. REST YOUR THOUGHTS
For the duration of your detox try cutting out some part of social media that you feel you are ‘addicted’ to. Maybe you can stop checking your phone for updates on facebook, instagram, twitter etc. Or you could try not watching TV, or not using your computer after 3pm. Use your saved time to go for a long walk, cook, garden or try something new and creative.
By Heather Cappie-Wood
As we take a sigh of relief and enjoy the first few days of Spring, it’s important to be conscious of which fruit and veggies are in season. Eating seasonal foods is a way to become in tune with the cycle that nature intended for us.
Here’s a quick and simple recipe which is the embodies the epitome of Spring.
Avocado & Asparagus Tartine
* 4 toasted slabs of whole grain bread, rubbed with olive oil and a bit of garlic
* 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
* 200g of asparagus stalks, trimmed roughly the length of your bread
* 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
* 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
* 1 avocado, pitted and smashed
* a couple handfuls of rocket, tossed in a bit of olive oil
* a handful of toasted pepitas, or almonds, or sunflower seeds
A few minutes before you want to eat heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot add the asparagus, and a pinch of salt and cook for about thirty seconds. Add the garlic and caraway, and cook another thirty seconds, or until the spears are a vibrant green. Remove from heat, and assembly the tartines.
Give each piece of bread a generous slather of mashed avocado. Top that with a bit of rocket, a few asparagus spears, and a generous sprinkling of pepitas or seeds.
You can actually slice each tartine into four or five bite-sized pieces for a nice appetiser option as well.
Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 5 min
Recipe & Image from 101 Cookbooks.
Check out their beautiful website for more seasonal recipes