Balance is a word that gets thrown around often. How to achieve it? How to find it? How to keep it?Read More
I recently heard Magnesium is called “The Lamp of Life”. I personally began incorporating this mineral into my life on a more regular basis and am definitely feeling the benefits of a calmer mind, sounder sleep, and more regular digestion. In my endless curiosity to understand how the body works and heals, I delved deeper into my search for understanding.
As a forever science nerd, I was completely blown away when I found this quote;
As Dr. Mark Sircus puts it in his book, Transdermal Magnesium Therapy:
“Chlorophyll with its magnesium core is recognized as one of nature’s richest sources of important nutrients where its rich green pigment is vital for the body’s rapid assimilation of amino acids and for the synthesis of enzymes. Thus, hundreds of enzymes need magnesium in order to work, which is why magnesium affects every aspect of our physiology.
Magnesium is needed by plants to form chlorophyll, which is the substance that makes plants green. Without magnesium sitting inside the heart of chlorophyll, plants would not be able to take nutrition from the sun because the process of photosynthesis would not go on. When magnesium is deficient things begin to die. In reality we cannot take a breath, move a muscle or think a thought without enough magnesium in our cells.”
Enzymes are the vehicles through which our body processes work and without proper magnesium, the body experiences a failure to thrive including loss of hair, weight gain, muscle cramping, cold hands and feet, irregular menstrual cycles, low energy, heartbeat irregularities, and so on. Interestingly, often times these symptoms lead to diagnoses of low thyroid function however the thyroid tests show the hormone is within normal limits.
Ultimately, proper magnesium levels allow the cell to maintain its permeability and regulation; receive what it needs to function properly and support the body systems to work in harmony. It is estimated that 80% of people in developed countries have magnesium deficiency.
Some common causes include:
- Synthetic Vitamin C competes with magnesium absorption and thus depletes it in the system (it’s better to eat the fruit containing the Vitamin C than to take synthetic Vitamin C supplements)
Water which is lacking minerals from the earth
Eating sugar – it takes 50 molecules of magnesium to process one molecule of refined white sugar, which quickly depletes magnesium
Diabetes causes the body to flush out important minerals, including magnesium
Malabsorption – lack of friendly bacteria in the gut
Taking synthetic calcium supplements
Alcohol, coffee, soda and birth control pill use
Synthetic oral Vitamin D – it binds the magnesium
Foods high in magnesium are:
Green leafy vegetables (cooked)
Orange juice (fresh-squeezed)
It was 5 days of complete silence, solitude and introspection. There was amazing beauty in 40 individuals going about the day in synchronicity and also in independence without the use of words to connect us.Read More
Staying Open...Read More
I have kept a journal for as long as I can remember. I poured over the blank page and filled it with my inner voice, my emotions, my insecurities, my dreams, my desires. There were times when I felt like the words couldn’t be written fast enough and times when I felt like they couldn’t come at all. All in all, my journal gave me comfort, a place to be heard, and a tool that would serve me for years to come.
As I have matured in my life and journaling, I now approach my time with the pen and paper as an opportunity. Below, I share the gifts I have received from a regular journaling practice
1. The gift of acceptance - When we take the time to write down our experience, we are practicing a radical form of self love. We are saying to the universe that we feel worthy of being seen, being held and being allowed to have someone stay while we express our deepest emotions without judgement, abandonment or exploitation
2. The gift of reflection - Journaling offers an innate opportunity for the sacred pause and an introduction to cultivate curiosity into our deep rooted mental constructs and unconscious habits. While we engage in the act of writing, we can begin to uncover some of the ways we perceive the world and our internal and inherited beliefs. We can begin to observe how and with what attitude we engage with the world and our emotions based on how we speak to and about ourselves and experience in the journal.
3. The gift of insight - When we reflect with an open and intimate interest into our journaling, we can begin to disidentify with its content slightly, creating a little bit of space to explore the nature of our body sensations AS we are writing. Journaling with mindfulness to body sensations as well as reflection on emotion with a kind attention brings a unique ability to uproot the cause and effect of some of the beliefs, perceptions and concepts we navigate life with.
For example, as I am writing about an occurance that happened in my personal life, applying close attention to the sensations in my body, I notice by heart begins to beat quickly, I recognize that I am angry, or humilated, or scared and my journaling becomes less about telling the story and being a victim and more about the direct experience of the moment. My journaling shifts from blame and shame to attending and befriending how I feel at the moment. I also notice that this pattern of physical sensations, emotions, and beliefs is something that happens often while I am journaling. This insight is invaluable and provides me with a place to practice, cultivate and manifest one of my deepest desires which is unconditional love and understanding.
4. The Gift of Manifestation- The longer we stay with the moment to moment experience, while continuing to journal, the more we are strengthening the manifestation potential of what we desire the most. Journaling gives us the power to embody and direct the qualities we want to feel from our environment towards ourselves for ourselves, thus consciously creating this energy to show up for us in our lives.
This time of year in the east coast is ripe for respiratory issues. I know for myself, my lungs are much more sensitive this time of year due to the kapha nature of my constitution as well as the environment and the organ itself. In Ayurveda, like attracts like and opposites balance. So, when I find myself in the throws of a winter cold, I like to comfort myself with astringent and warming foods and drink.
One of my favorites is red clover tea because of the herbs natural healing and anti macrobial properties including anti oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Including in this tea are additional fever combating and sore throat soothing herbs - sage, thyme, ginger and lemon.
2 cups boiling water
1 tbsp dry clover flowers (if you use fresh herbs, triple the amount)
1 tsp each dry thyme and dry sage (if you use fresh herbs, triple the amount)
Honey and lemon to taste
Simmer all the ingredients in the water except the lemon and honey for 8 minutes and then strain. Add the lemon and honey and enjoy!
For additional support email me @ email@example.com. Schedule a one - on - one e-consult with me
Everyone who knows me well knows I love anything sweet and creamy. I personally do not keep any ice cream treats of any kind in my house for the sheer reason that I will consume the entire container in one to two sittings. In full disclosure, portion control is important to me so I will usually err on the side of responsible there, but regardless, it doesn't feel that great afterwards. Still though, I am a sucker for a comforting nightcap.
Enter my favorite treat, the Turmeric tonic. Besides being super comforting, there's a few reasons I like to drink this elixir before bed.
1. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory - Inflammation is pervasive in our culture, often unnoticed, its the cause of alot of health issues, including blocking the absorption and distribution of important nutrients. Turmeric is a natural healer, and liver tonic, helping with assimilation and elimination, colds, flus, stomach aches, wound healing - I even use it with my facewash due its anti microbial properties.
2. Almond Milk is earthy and grounded. It activates the sense stores of relaxation and turns on our relax and renew brain inviting a sense of calm and well being.
3. Together, these two pack quite the punch and create a well rounded support for digestive, adrenal and respiratory health
Because of the Kapha ( more earthy nature ) of this elixir, I personally add black pepper to mine to give it a little heat. When consuming food and drink for health, the benefits are always optimized when specified for your specific constitution, taking into consideration the season, age, sex, the current and past lifestyle choices and environmental factors. As a Registered Dietitan and Certified Ayurvedic Specialist, I believe wholeheartedly in personalizing nutrition as the best way to achieve health.
Simple Recipe for Tumeric Tonic
Heat 12oz Almond Milk
Add 1/2 tsp ground tumeric, dash of cinnamon and sea salt and stir
If you are interested in individual coaching, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule an e-consultation with me here. General comprehensive ayurvedic constitution guidelines and food lists are available to purchase using this link, but be sure to take the free quiz before purchase to determine your constitution. Many people express a blend of constitutions and working one on one with a specialist assures smooth and appropriate transitions and adaptations of the plan resulting in optimal health and vibrance.
Lately I have been practicing metta on a very regular basis. Metta is typically defined as loving kindness and strengthening the part of ourselves that can open to whatever arises in our experience. And whatever arises is so spontaneous, we have no idea when, where, what or who is going to show up. It's hard. It's hard waiting, listening, being present, being patient. I want to know, fix, manage, anticipate, get ahead of etc..
I feel lucky to have my practice, my practice that teaches me that this wanting, striving, hoping, avoiding, is universal. It is THE universal suffering of being a human. There is a quote I heard recently about how hard it is for humans merely to be separated from the divine source. How this separation is the original disconnect so to speak, and just our being born into this earthly plane is enough struggle to explore through our practice - to get to the place where we feel whole again.
To feel whole - a concept I have been exploring since as long as I remember. When I was 10, I remember putting on my mother’s lipstick, looking in the mirror and staring at myself, and her and saying.. “I am ME, and you are you.. Isn’t that crazy? I am me and you are YOU”. This being separate has always been somewhat of an enigma.
Over the years I have learned, through myself, through others, through books, classes, lectures and ultimately just by pausing and feeling it all that the belonging, the connection I so desperately was seeking is available inside me. And not as something I can understand or do something to get, but rather something I can continue to create and choose to embody. At any time. In any place. No matter the circumstances. The belonging is there in the attitude, in the attention, in the willingness to stay and practice the metta through reflection, meditation and continued kind and courageous action.
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Health professionals all over the world prescribe yoga as a means to stretch and balance the body and mind. Yin Yoga, a passive and more receptive style of yoga, offers as much benefit and even more than its better known power classes for athletic performance enhancement and efficiency.
There are many things I love about meditation, but one of the big shifts that has happened for me is the ability to understand the nature and reality of experience. I am sensitive and analytical, which can be a recipe for one of the 3 causes of suffering - delusion. Delusion, by definition is not seeing clearly and can cause not only internal strife but also contribute to grasping and aversion of external objects and experiences.
When I teach meditation, and in my own practice, I enjoy paying close intimate attention to the neutral sensations. This means that even when I am enjoying a relatively calm sitting, I inquire deeper into the non-sensational, like the natural throbbing of my hands, the beating of my heart, the subtle sensations of the stomach digesting or its grumble letting me know i am hungry. I recognize and allow these sensations to be held in my awareness with a deeper inquiry into its nature as pleasant or unpleasant.
It’s important to get to know these neutral sensations on this more subtle level to train the mind. Often times neglected neutral sensations can escalate into extremes. If we use our practice to be with and pay attention to things when they are calm with as much interest and effort as we do when they are pleasant or unpleasant, the more likely we are to respond skillfully to whatever may come our way.
I have to admit, I didn’t know what Yin Yoga was when I first heard it. My friend Janine had been practicing for years and I remember thinking it sounded like a restorative class. I respected the idea of restoration but I never prioritized the practice amidst my daily mysore Ashtanga yoga discipline . As the years when on and my spiritual practice evolved alongside my physical one, I reintroduced myself to Yin Yoga from a new,more receptive and softer place. I was changed and completely blown away. I fell head over heels in love with this practice that is so much more than what can be explained using language. Though Yin and Restorative yoga are both inherently restorative practices, through fully engaging with the practice, I teased off some key differences between the two that I have found through my own practice.
Restorative Yoga is about restoring the overworked and dynamic muscles in addition to engaging in complete pratyahara or sense withdrawal. In restorative yoga, the student supports the body in postures held for 10 plus minutes at a time, with no distraction from the senses, thus allowing for complete and utter surrender. There is no “doing” in restorative yoga, it is completely passive which supports the body’s natural ability to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system and recover.
Yin Yoga is also restorative, however the tissues restored are the connective tissue - the ligaments, joints and tendons. As the stabilizers of the body, these are the tissues that support the muscle’s ability to function at its highest capacity. In a yin class, the passive postures, sequenced to restore and nourish the body’s subtle energetic channels housed within these connective tissues are held for 3 - 5 minutes with a focused attention. The awareness is actively engaged with the sense body from a receptive and curious perspective, inviting in sensation and meeting its deepest physical edges. The invitation is to apply mindfulness practices such as a concentrated breath and resourcing awareness to more neutral sensations while in the postures.
Restorative yoga is best practiced in the evening as a support to wind down. Also great at the end of a vigorous flow class, restorative postures can give the muscles a much needed break and allow the breath to circulate evenly for a more efficient recovery. Yin Yoga, on the other hand is best practiced in the morning. Even though it is passive, the connective tissues respond best to the postures when they are cold and not test warmed up. Definitely include both restorative and yin yoga into your practice repertoire and your body will thank you
My Yin Yoga Classes at Sangha Yoga Shala
Tuesday | 10am
Thursday | 7pm
How can we harness our creative energy in a way where it can be transformed into a tangible contribution? I struggle with this question constantly. It’s a natural feeling, the wanting, the uncertainty, the fear around wondering if it will ever happen or if we even have the energy at all. But the deeper truth is that we are creativity. Humans are a product of creation and therefore ARE creation. It is boundless and sourced within us.
Believing it’s in abundance - Intention and faith are the cornerstones of creativity and cultivating fulfillment.
Recognizing the fear and anxiety around the idea of creativity as opportunities to cultivate its potential
Turn towards these emotions with a loving and patient attention - rather than becoming hostile around these emotions, recognize them as unpleasant yet allow them to remain in your presence without shaming or blaming. If you notice, shaming or blaming is occurring, turn towards that and practice the same kind attention
Cultivate stillness and let the energy flow and properly marinate - it is skillful to allow the energy to live inside for a time. Resist the urge to externalize as the energy begins to heighten and alchemize
Apply inquiry and curiosity to the flow. Is there a specific emotion that continues to arise? Can you name and drop into the body, and notice where it lives? Can you develop an intimate attention and relationship with the physical without abandoning or judging?
Once you become familiar with this sensation and it becomes less aversive to your awareness, you can begin to inquire deeper into its root, perhaps the first time you felt this physical sensation.
- Often these roots are deeply protected and can take many weeks and months to uncover, but once uncovered with a friendliness, care and patience, we can begin to nurture them with a new mature awareness, thus providing the perfect fertilizer for our creativity to grow
Ayurveda is the science of life. As such, life is always changing, shifting, and transforming around and through us. As we employ Ayurveda as a means to further discover ourselves, we can utilize its innate intelligence to guide and nurture us in navigating the temperature of our individual and communal worlds.
This is the time of year, as holidays roll around, that we can find ourselves out of balance. It’s a motley crew of reasons, including the weather, the food we eat, the schedules, the anxiety, the enthusiasm and even the conversations. Yes, Ayurveda includes all of these things and therefore can adjust for them as well.
Enjoy this quick guide to Ayurveda for Holidays - How to show up as your most balanced self all season long:
Stay warm and hydrated - Fall and early winter are vata seasons and these properties of air and and wind can influence our ability to stay grounded. The qualities of air and wind are very quick and light, found energetically at parties, meals and even in some conversations. Think about that energy of being pulled in a million directions or a loud and fast paced conversation that perhaps you weren’t quite ready for. It’s important during this time of high social and energetic enthusiasm to remain committed to this simple act of self care. Staying warm physically through clothing, food and drink gives us a leg up when the vata appears in ways we didn’t prepare for, and helps to support a grounded and open and genuinely engaged presence even in the most stressful of situations
Limit Spicy Foods / Alcohol - Nothing stokes a Pitta like going home for the holidays. The brain and the belly are inextricably linked. When the mind is active and in overdrive producing thoughts laced with anxiety and overwhelm, the belly immediately gears up, often producing acidic enzymes creating a hot and spicy internal environment to say the least. An unfortunate bi product of this very common occurance is a sharp tongue and short reaction times. By limiting spicy foods and moderating alcohol intake, and including warm, sweet and savory tastes instead, we can support a calmer mind / body with which to respond to anything and anyone that comes our way.
Watch portion sizes and meal times - You will be amazed at how holiday depression can be combatted with simple portion control and regular eating habits. The Kapha / earth element, can be felt strongly during this time of year in the form of lethargy, fatigue and laziness. Interestingly enough, a simple vata and pitta infusion of rhythm and consistency can help. Even if a whole meal isnt possible, stoking the metabolism on a regular basis with light snacks supports hormone balance and mental stability - empowering us with powerful ammo for those epic holiday meal times.
Engage in a Spiritual Practice - At the end of the day, we are all spiritual beings, seeking to connect, love, and experience the depth of our human capabilities. The holidays are an amazing time to practice these aspirations with others and grow ourselves in ways unavailable to us the rest of the year. The opportunity for practice lives in each and every holiday party, family and community dinner, and uncomfortable conversation with a family member or co-worker. Our commitment to our personal practice ensures we nurture the connection to ourselves and our intentions, freeing the energy up to engage, participate and share with the deep knowing that we are safe and loved.
Alana is an RD with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU in addition to being certified as a specialist in Ayurveda. She offers one on one consultations at her studio Sangha Yoga Shala in Williamsburg, BK or via Skype
5 Minute practice for those days when time is of the essence. Enjoy!Read More
Body Scan Guided Meditation recorded during a live class. The invitation is to include all external noise in your awareness with interest and kindness
Thank you for your attention.
love, AlanaRead More
I was watching a movie the other day in which one of the characters said to another – “you have had a life, but you haven’t lived”. I found this statement to be so true and so relevant. It’s easy to get caught up in the blame and regret of the unlived life, but the truth is, “living” is one of the hardest things to do. It seems counterintuitive, we “live” everyday. We wake up, take a shower, go to our job, talk to friends, eat, shop, read, have sex, exercise, meditate etc.., but what is really happening here? Isn’t there more than what we consume and produce that makes a human life valuable? And an even deeper question is, is it the inherent lack of interest as a society in a different quality of experience?
Is our life worth more than the sum results of our “doing”?
I believe as a culture, we are evolving towards this aspiration of self actualization, interconnectedness, de- personalization and the importance of self love and generosity. Finally people are beginning to give validity to the individual experience and understand how much stronger a community is when the people in it are in mature relationship with themselves first. What I mean by this is, truly turning towards the direct experience of what is happening to you and feeling it, without first blaming, shaming, projecting, or judging someone else for the feelings that are inside at the present moment.
As a child, I felt this pull towards purposeful personal expression, accountability and tolerance. I don’t know where it came from – an ayurvedic astrologer that I see once a year told me back in 2008 that I was a buddhist monk in my past life – so there is that. But, if regression therapy isn’t your thing, we can say that perhaps I was just tuning into something bigger that has guided me throughout life.
I wish I could say it was easy. I wish I could say, I found my truth and it led me to the land of the living enlightened, but this is in fact so far from it. I spent so many years hiding in the most creative ways. I held on to deep rooted values and beliefs even though my outer world expressed the opposite. I continued to feel small, misunderstood and short of making the impact that I felt was available in my heart.
I shied away from romantic relationships and anything that made me feel too much. Fiercely independent, I had a hard time living in the intimacy of connection. When I was a teenager, even as a talented and well respected singer, I would turn and face a wall when performing for small crowds, because I didn’t feel worthy of being great. I didn’t feel that my contribution was good, or big enough to be seen. In fact, I felt in the most vulnerable place in my soul that sharing in my most natural way, truly expressing without censorship, curation or permission would make me a bad person. It would make me selfish, a show off, trying to hard, too much – and I would be exiled into loneliness, rejection and humiliation. This is the truth I lived with for 34 years of my life. This is way I lived.
The reality is that this isn’t just my limited belief. This framing of life is mirrored through many conservative and dogmatic cultures, including more primitive generations of human beings fearful of “others” as a threat to their mere survival. These beliefs are continually reinforced in the schools, and social circles I participated in as a teenager and young adult. I experienced so much pain as a result of this universal consciousness. I was criticized, bullied by my peers in regards to my physical appearance, and eventually self-inflicted harm and interpersonal conflict.
The interpersonal conflict is still an ongoing practice and the one most prevalent as an adult woman navigating these rapidly changing times, especially when there are such strong and deep rooted beliefs and values around the community and its obligations from the individual. These values are in fact the opposite of the self expressed, personal development, self love paradigm as a means to serve at the highest potential for humanity, that I believe the world is fastly moving towards. This remains extremely challenging and sad, and I implored sophisticated measures, for many years, to get around feeling it. But I have reached the end. There is no more back road that leads to anywhere but more suffering, and I have finally thrown the white flag.
I am still unsure how to navigate this chasm in beliefs, when the interests are so different and yet we are still so interconnected. I so badly want to be able to have an inclusive relationship with all communities, one where I don’t feel like I have to reject anything and isolate in order to be truly free and expressive, because I know that is not where it leads.
In my heart I know there is a higher path, I know there is a way in which we can stop expecting the other to change, stop personalizing each other’s actions as though it reflects upon us. The rub is this – the conflict and the feelings on both sides are real, but they are not the deeper truth.
So how can we evolve? The answer lies in our willingness to connect to ourselves.
I have had many incidents over the years where with the arising of difficult emotions, I abandoned myself with unhealthy dissociation behaviors. I spent years getting trapped in a cycle of choosing men who are unavailable, over a decade of binging and purging, and engaging in friendships with people who are apathetic and contentious rather than encouraging and supportive of my creative pursuits, reinforcing my insecurities and defensiveness. I so badly wanted to be seen and loved for who I am, and that was the underlying desire.
However, it was me who was keeping myself invisible, because what I deeply wanted to feel was right there in the response to the suffering I was ignoring. I was subconsciously choosing to not be seen. I wasn’t attending with kindness to my own emotions that were right there, taking long term residence in my body and long forgotten. In turn I had these great expectations on others to validate me, sacrifice their own expression of direct experience and offer me accolades so that I would feel understood, worthy and valued. Of course this is unrealistic and only served to reinforce my insecurities and fears. In the end, I am responsible… but not to blame. Forgiveness.
This insight has been incredibly freeing for me in my relationships, yet remains to be a challenge in the face of antiquated societal constructs such as the role and expectation of a woman’s contribution to society and a certain linear conformity which represent these patterns. After many years, I have begun opening myself to self-expression and sharing myself without censorship, something that leaves me feeling very vulnerable. I often receive feedback from more conservative communities that my creative choices in expression are harmful, disappointing, and potentially dangerous to my future and reputation. When I share that I am not ashamed, I don’t feel there is controversy, and there is value to my contribution even if it does not please everybody, I have heard responses such as – ‘ so what about the people that say they value it, what about all the people that don’t?’ ‘Shouldn’t you think about the people that don’t share your same ideology and how your actions make them feel?’ There is really nothing to say. I deeply believe it is in service of the greater good to be transparent, authentic, and empower people to expand their perspectives in a non-harming, non-violent way.
And even though I don’t believe these labels and lines of inquiry to be based in a deeper truth, all the fears I suppressed, years of proving through consumption of degrees, founding and operating a valued community yoga studio, living in a comfortable apartment and collecting material possessions, I still struggle with feeling safe, truly being myself, and sharing my unique gifts and creativity. Even after all the years of collecting knowledge, practicing and teaching yoga and meditation, producing in the way we are taught to, my worst fears of feeling judged, abandoned, exploited, criticized, shamed and unwanted have been made conscious.
And as I continue to undress from all the layers I wore to keep me hidden, I am feeling that hit of self-consciousness, rejection, paralyzing fear of isolation, and judgement that I touched into and ran away from over and over again as a young child, teenager and young adult. But I am staying with it this time because I feel the power living in my transparency rooted in a sincere contribution, in my courage to show up authentically without restraint, hopefully empowering others to know and feel it is safe to do the same, and there is a community and a full successful life waiting to be realized.
As an adult woman, I am stepping into my agency and answering the call that rang all those years ago that as a young girl I didn’t have the tools to live in. I am holding the space for my own vulnerability and feelings, giving them permission to abide and be responsibly visible through my creativity without feeling shame or exploited. I am releasing the notion that my value is in the hands of other people’s approval, that receiving help to realize my aspirations make my efforts less than valuable, and I am reaffirming my commitment that accepting others and being accepted is an opportunity for a deeper intimacy and understanding.
I am extending value and gentleness to my disappointments and sadness in the face of being viewed as selfish. I am valuing my expression as a human over the unverified truth and belief that my sincere, pure based actions will do harm to others if I am not always pleasing to them. I am extending space and love to the fear that I will be estranged, isolated and unsafe by living true to the voice of my soul. And I give value to the real but untrue belief that continues to live in the consciousness of others with compassion.
This is my contribution. This is my sincere interest. Today I begin living.
When we engage in an active partnership with life, making conscious all the ways and identifications we participate with, we have the power to truly manifest our highest potential.
Please enjoy this meditation in a safe, quiet environment.