We're back from our April 2015 Cape May, NJ, Detox Yoga retreat and I'm getting ready for another one next week on May 1st! What a busy Spring this is turning out to be. This nourishing, cleansing stew - Kitcharee - is just the thing to restore overworked bodies and minds. It's a good thing it tastes good, too! Believe me, I wouldn't eat anything that didn't satisfy my picky palette.
There are Kitcharee recipes all over the Internet. The trick is to find a basic one, and then adjust it to fit what you have in your cabinets in the way of veggies, beans and rice. Most original recipes call for split mung beans, which are yellow, tiny beans that cook down to soft goodness in no time at all. And also basmati rice, veggies and an assortment of spices to help with digestion.
In Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, this dish is meant to be taken when one is looking to cleanse the body - for a single meal, or a whole month. This dish has everything you need to leave you feeling satisfied, so you are not depriving your system at all. All the ingredients are cooked until soft, but not gummy. And the spices added help to make it all easy on the system, regardless of your constitution (dosha).
Here's a basic recipe that I follow. Feel free to tweak anything to make it fit what's in your refrigerator and cabinets.
1 cup Basmati Rice
2 cups Mung Dal (split yellow)
7 cups (approx.) Water (more water for a soupy consistency)
a bit of Salt
2 Tbs. Ghee (clarified butter - can find in health food store or some grocers)
3 tsp. Mustard Seeds
2 tsp. Cumin Seeds or Powder
2 tsp. Turmeric Powder
2 tsp. Coriander Powder
2 tsp. Fennel Powder
1 pinch Asafoetida (Hing)
Rinse rice and dal in a few changes of water and remove any debris.
Saute seeds in ghee until they pop. Then add the other spices. Add the mung dal and salt. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add boiling water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes or until dal is almost fully cooked.
Then add any vegetables that balance your constitution (or ones that happen to be in your fridge!). Cut into smallish pieces. Add rice and veggies to the stew and stir to mix, adding extra water if needed. Bring back to boil and simmer until rice is cooked, up to 20 minutes.
Caution: Kitchari mono-diet can lead to constipation if taken exclusively for several days, as it is low in fiber. The following may help to take once per day, a few hours after meals: psyllium husks or seeds with water OR oat bran OR prune juice.
Notice how nourishing this dish is and how satisfied it leaves you feeling. I'm always amazed after I am away on a cleansing retreat eating mainly this dish, how I DON'T want unhealthy food. The more you feed the body what it needs, the more it wants what will heal and support it.
Let me know if you have any questions and how your Kitcharee dish turns out!
Happy New Year!
It's hard to believe it's 2015 already. If you're like me, it'll take you a few weeks (at least) to stop writing "2014" on your checks. It's also time to reflect back on 2014 and think about what I want for myself and my life in the new year.
This year, I don't really have any official "Resolutions" because I honestly feel like I am constantly making "resolutions" for myself all year round, whether it's to eat better, do more yoga, spend more time with my family, more time writing, more time meditating. But it wouldn't be New Year's without at least pondering the idea. So I start thinking. Pondering.
And then I start flipping through my first mail delivery of 2015. What do I find? Two, yes TWO, copies of Yoga Journal in my mailbox. I'm still not sure why I've been getting double copies of YJ for months now, but I don't seem to be getting charged for the mags. Oh, well.
I page through the magazine as I always do, to get a quick visual of what's inside. It's the normal smattering of ads for yoga clothing on svelt models, supplements that promise to fix your digestive system and suggested yoga sequences for every complaint.
I stop on a page with a photo of smiling faces of people all wearing the same shirts. I'm curious to read the text on the shirts because the words certainly must explain the reason that these people, men, women, young, old, skinny, husky, are all smiling so happily and so sincerely. I read that the shirts all say, "This is what a yogi looks like." I like that. Because it's true.
And my eyes glance down and see that there's a quote at the bottom of the magazine page that seems to some up my New Year's Resolution (if I were going to make one) for 2015:
"I used to try to do yoga the 'perfect' way. Now yoga reminds me that I am whole and complete just as I am and so is everyone else." -Pia Guerrero
May your 2015 be overflowing with love, laughter and many, many big, sincere smiles.
Do you pride yourself on your grammar wisdom? Take this Grammar Quiz to see just how good you really are!
How to Prepare for your First Yoga Class
For those who are newcomers to yoga, or for us “seasoned veterans” who could use a reminder, here are some things to keep in mind so that everyone’s yoga experience is fulfilling.
1. Arrive early. If you are attending class for the first time, then you will need some extra time to fill out forms, meet the teacher, and get acquainted with your new surroundings (10 minutes?). And, if you’re like me, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to set up your mat and props and not feel rushed in any way. If you do happen to be running late, however, (it happens to the best of us!) don’t fret. Simply wait until the opening meditation is finished before walking in to class. It’s much less distracting to have someone set up his or her mat next to you during downward dog than during your silent meditation!
2. What to wear/bring. You really only need to bring yourself. You may bring your own mat, if you have one, or use one of ours. We have extra mats and props at no extra charge. We recommend not running out to buy the cheapest mat you find at Walmart. It's best to try out different brands and styles and ask around. Mats vary greatly in their price, stickiness, thickness, and softness. Cheaper is not always better. Dress in clothes you can move in. Wear tights or shorts, a tee-shirt or tank top. You will get warm during class, but also be prepared to cover up at the end with a sweatshirt and/or socks. We have water, tea and fruit available at the studio (small donations welcome) if you're thirsty or hungry and forgot to bring your own.
3. Eat After Class. One should not eat for at least two hours before practicing yoga – three or four hours after a big meal. During your practice, you want all of your body’s energy to go to your muscles, not to your stomach. If this seems to intense, at least eat light. Have a small smoothie, a cup of tea, or some other food that won’t start churning in undesirable ways half way into the class.
4. Follow up with Water. While most teachers will recommend that you do NOT drink anything DURING your practice, it is a good idea to drink plenty of water after the class. This helps to further the process of detoxification that the asanas have begun. Think of it as a way of washing away all of the toxins that your muscles just wrung out. I usually drink two full glasses (sometimes one of those is a yummy cup of yogi tea).
5. Perfumes and Colognes. Loading up on half a bottle of your favorite perfume would obviously not be advisable when coming to class. However, do take time to make sure your “odor natural” will not offend the yogini on the next mat, or your teacher – when he or she comes closer to give you that oh-so-welcome adjustment in downward dog. Some suggest showering before and after your practice. Yoga mats should also be cleaned regularly. Throw it right in the washing machine, and let it dry for a good, long time (mine usually takes up to two days). Regular washing will also keep it nice and “sticky.”
6. Do what works for you. Chanting or not chanting. Hands-on adjustments or not. Only do what is comfortable for you and your body. Your teacher will not be offended if you vary your practice so that it is right for you. A simple “no, thank you” will let your teacher know that you are doing just fine, without extra help or adjusting. And, staying silent while others are chanting “Om” is also your prerogative. No pressure. The great thing about yoga is that it IS so varied. We are all unique, so take what you will, and leave the rest
Beginner, Intermediate, Level 1, Level 2, Introductory, Gentle, Flow, Slow, Power Yoga? Just what Level and Style of yoga fits you best?
It's sometimes difficult to distinguish between the different levels of yoga at different locations. You might have found yourself questioning as you look at all the classes we offer, as well. Here, at Jim Thorpe Yoga, we have a level and a style of yoga to fit all personalities and bodies.
If there is one thing I've learned from practicing yoga for 16 years, it'sthat we are ALL beginners, in our bodies and in our minds. After practicing various "flow" styles of yoga for years, I went to an "Iyengar" (read: alignment-based yoga) class in an attempt to learn more about yoga and go deeper into my own practice. When I left that class I felt like a beginner, even though I had been practicing for over ten years!
The teacher (Joan White) corrected me in downward facing dog pose. She corrected me just sitting in cross-legged pose! My shoulders weren't back far enough? My chest wasn't lifting? Talk about a complete 180. All previous notions I had about yoga had just been turned upside down, and yet I left that yoga class with a profound experience. I wasn't over-jittery, but I wasn't uber-relaxed either. I actually felt like I was floating. My heart felt like it was
buoyant. My mind had to adjust to coming back to reality after being completely absorbed for probably the first time throughout an ENTIRE yoga class. I mean, there wasn't a moment that my mind wandered. It was too busy focusing on my outer shoulders or my inner heel or my little finger of my left hand.
I look back on that day as the first day I realized that I need to continueto be a beginner every time I step on my mat. Is your Down Dog ever final? Will I ever get my hips completely squared in Warrior 1? So what if I do. But, I know I will be okay if it doesn't happen.
That's what it means to be a beginner. Live in the place where your mind is fresh and open to any possibility. Live with the attitude that anything that happens on your mat today is honest and true and can teach you about yourself, both physically and mentally.
Have the winter blahs got you down? Are you out of practice with yoga or your other exercise routine?
When I first started yoga, my practice was off and on, as well. I would rent a DVD and practice a few times a week, and I would attend class when I could get a babysitter for my son, River. I didn't even know about the idea of having a regular "daily practice."
After many years of this, I felt like I wanted more. I liked how yoga made me feel, during and after each class and each practice. I wanted to experience how my teachers felt doing a practice every day, but this was more difficult for me than I thought it would be.
I've always been one to pile a lot on my plate. I guess I just like to be busy. Adding yoga to my daily routine just
didn't seem to fit with a full-time teaching job, a child, running, taking care of a house, and everything else. So, how was I tomanage yoga along with all of that? I found an answer on my computer - "3 Poses a Day."
This was something that I could fit into my tight schedule. Anyone could do just three poses every day. It only takes a few minutes. And this is how it started. I would plan to only do three poses. If I didn't have much time, that's all it would be. If I had more time, and I started with the three poses, I would feel so good that I would usually keep going. That's how my practice evolved into 30-minutes to 90-minutes of practicing yoga each day.
This morning, as I unfolded my blanket to do my practice with Shawn still sleeping in the bed next to me, I started with a Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). As I pressed my finger tips into the wall to help keep me from slipping, I was reminded of why I practice each day. Minutes later, as I twisted into Maricyasana I, I felt my spine awaken. And towards the end of my practice, as I extended forward in Pascimottanasana (seated forward bend), I noticed a length and a softness that doesn't always come.
A daily yoga practice means getting to know yourself a little better, day by day, pose by pose. Maybe you've just started yoga. Maybe you've been doing a regular, or irregular, practice for years now. Whatever your situation, if you'd like to "Spring Back" into your yoga practice, it's easy.
Take out your mat right now and practice. Don't have a mat? Can't do that? Then, stop whatever you're doing and sit up tall. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Notice each full, complete breath and feel gratitude. There, you just did it. Your yoga practice.
The beginning of a New Year is often about resolutions, or what we swear we will do
(lose weight, get healthy, ride bike more, spend time with family, write my memoir?) during this coming year. Yet, it also often directs us to look back on the the past, "old" one.
This past year has been a blur of experiences for me, one of the most positive being the opening, and growing, of our studio, Jim Thorpe Yoga! I also lost my mother at the beginning of the summer, the most difficult experience of my life.
Many times, as we look back our past, we too often remember the painful experiences that we've experienced. When we talk about past relationships or jobs, it's usually to mention what we "couldn't stand" about that person or that company. In the news, they also seem to focus on the negative - all the mass shootings or insane wardrobe choices made by such-and-such celebrity. Why do we focus on the negative?
Instead, let's turn our awareness to what has been exceptional in our lives, in the past, and in the present... In the past year, I've been able to meet many amazing new faces as new students come to the studio for the first time. I've also experienced the joy of starting something from nothing and seeing it grow. I've had relationships grow even deeper because I now have more time to devote to my loved ones. I've had the opportunity to spend yet another year with my
family, my brother and sister, Alex and Clarissa. I also enjoy a daily yoga practice in which I am able to connect deeper with my body and spirit, and I have the opportunity to study with amazing teachers like Holly Walck and Joan White. I feel blessed to have been given this year.
As you look forward and plan your resolutions for this coming new year, remember to look back on the one that is passing. Remember to look fondly on the positive things in your life. What are your blessings? What have you been given?
Here's to the New Year . . . and to remembering the old one.
Hi! I'm Maya!
A yoga teacher, juice bar owner, freelance writer and mom. I love simple, tiny living, and am mildly obsessed with vanlife and dogs. I love travel, getting outside, and the challenge of cooking from scratch with a few simple ingredients. Thanks for visiting my site. Feel free to email me with questions, feedback, or to connect in any way!