Connecting head and heart.

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Overlooking Topanga Canyon during Moksha Festival.

Moksha: liberation. 

The shift began on Kauai in June, then continued on through early July, around the time I began questioning The Physics of the Heart. On a 2am whim, after returning home from a rare night out, I decided on living abundantly and doing something new and nourishing. I booked tickets to Moksha Festival, a yoga, ayurveda, and music festival in Topanga Canyon, California. I didn’t know where I’d stay or where it’d fit in my budget, but something told me to just trust the flow. When in California…

I found a yoga teacher’s discount (score!), then remembered an older brother-type good friend and past colleague lives in Topanga. I e-mailed him about recommendations on couchsurfing/camping. Turned out he and his lady were heading to Laguna Beach the very weekend of Moksha and needed a cat sitter. How’s that for divine timing?

Kicking back in Topanga Canyon nest

Kicking back in Topanga Canyon nest

My friend’s Topanga nest is of Topanga Canyon boheme tree house, sunlit, lotus fountain, saged-spicing the air goodness. What a nest to roost in the midst of a shift. If the festival wasn’t going on down the road, it would’ve been worth it to simply stay there all weekend!

Funny thing about the fest: I was more absorbed in the subtlies of this yoga thing than the movement. Yes, I practiced asana with some awesome famous teachers, but more so, I fully absorbed myself in the subtle, deeper knowledge thrown my way.

The Psychospiritual Basis of Disease and Healing, an ayurveda talk by Dr. Shiva Mohan, particularly struck me. From the moment Dr. Mohan began speaking, I was in full absorb mode. She’s dynamic, passionate, and one can just tell she is living what she’s talking about: ayurveda + connecting your heart’s intentions with your head’s.

We learn as we study yoga more deeply, whether it be through reading, yoga teacher training, yoga philosophy groups, or if we’re lucky, our teacher weaves it into asana: every life experience, past and present, has an energetic input. Each input leads to certain habits in the mind, or samskaras. Samskaras are our teachers, we repeat patterns over and over again until we catch ourselves and stop. In order to liberate ourselves from the samskara cycle, we must become aware of our irrational thinking.  Our tendency to succumb to stinking thinking based on our ignorance, ego, craving, aversion, and/or fear (avidya, asmita, raga, dvesha, abhinivesa).

I ate up every word of Dr. Mohan’s ayurvedic medicine talk. Besides a food mantra to keep us airy-type folks grounded and healthy (“warm, moist, cooked, spiced”), she said something so simple as time drew near that summed up the poignant talk.

To paraphrase Dr. Mohan: “Connect your head with your heart. Check what your head wants, check what your heart wants, pick the one in the heart and make your words and actions align in all chakras”.

English? Follow your heart, make a plan with your brain, and execute with your entire body and soul.

Further…

“Chant the Gayatri Mantra, long form. Each verse activates a chakra, from root to crown. Long form Gayatri Mantra. ”

I’ve chanted Deva Premal‘s shorter Gayatri Mantra over and over again, but long form? Hmm. So, after some research, and an e-mail to Dr. Mohan double-checking the validity of my findings, the long form was in my hands. I wrote it in my journal, and began singing it along with sun salutations on the morning sun-lit back deck of my Topanga Canyon nest. It’s been a daily song ever since.

Dr. Mohan, thank you for this reminder to knock it off with the samskaras, follow our hearts, act and align accordingly.

Om bhur

Om bhuvaha

Om Swaha

Om Maha

Om Janaha

Om Tapaha

Om Satyam

Om tat savitur varenyam

Bargo Devasya Dhimahi

Dhiyo Yo na Prachodayat

Kirtan and Yoga overlooking the Canyon

Kirtan and Yoga overlooking the Canyon

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Burst.

I didn’t need another person telling me to ‘ground’, meditate, think positively, practice mellow yoga, rest, or shroud myself in self-love. I already knew the psycho-somatic-spiritual perspective; I live and breath it…teach it!… for crying out loud. When enlisting the help of professionals when it dawned on me earlier this year that I felt just-not-myself despite my mind-body practices, Dr. Emily at Roots Natural Medicine was a breath of fresh air.

Of course, the above contribute to healing.  However, I needed a Natural Doctor opposite to my air-y, head in the clouds at times, stoked on teaching and practicing mellow + vinyasa flow yoga-self. A fire-y Cross Fitter with two feet on solid ground, she approached my situation from her practical perspective. She immediately suspected adrenal fatigue, a lingering mononucleosis-ish virus, perhaps picked up from my travels, and a gluten/dairy intolerance. Dr. E ordered labs, and prescribed the following:

  • High doses of Astralagus herb, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A to treat the virus (yuck).
  • An herbal blend and trace minerals to support adrenals and energy.
  • An RX to keep up the grain- and dairy-free Wild Woman ways of eating.

…and the most recent RX to stimulate immunity and balanced energy?

  • Five minutes of, in Dr. E’s verbage, “balls to the wall” cardio within ten minutes of waking.

I call my new rx,

burst.

Bursts, when performed within ten minutes of waking, I repeat,

  • fire up your metabolism,
  • balance hormones,
  • and trigger the body’s healing mechanisms.

Only five minutes. Ten if you’re in the flow.

So grab a jump rope, drop down for push ups, sprint around the yard, try plyometric squat jumps, and dance with flailing limbs. Oh, and make a high-energy playlist.

My playlist includes upbeat yoga jams, M. Ward’s “Chinese Translation”, Lady Antebellum’s “We Owned the Night”, Florence and the Machine’s “Shake it Off”, Nashville’s “Telescope”, Crosby Stills Nash + Young’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”, The Givers “Up Up Up”…

I love the way bursts makes me feel. Moving first thing in the AM gives me a chance to check in with myself before taking on the world: “Hello me! How am I doing today?”. I’ve even adopted these little cardio-dance parties at any low-energy points throughout the day.

 Bonus? Mental focus + ripped abs.

Try it out. Only five minutes that get your day off to a clear, energized, and balanced start.

Follow with another five to twenty minutes of yoga or stretching, plus a tall glass of water.

Resume your normal activities throughout the day.

peace, burst, + love,

Beach Girl Abroad

burst accessories: jump rope. super thick yoga mat.

burst accessories:
jump rope.
super thick yoga mat.

Drink + Eat Like a Modern Day Wildwoman: Probiotic Superbrews + Eats

This Modern Day Wildwoman gets her buzz on via fermented beverages.

Of the probiotic and cultured type, naturally.

These probiotic powerhouses burst forth a wealth of health benefits such as aiding detoxification, tipping our bodies towards acid/alkaline balance, and containing beneficial bacteria which our enhance our digestion and increase general feelings of well-being.

You may have heard of probiotic brews. Kombucha and kefir drinks are standard at health food stores around the Unites States, abroad, and now even at certain chain grocers (at least here in progressive California). If you haven’t noticed a special brew in the cold case, you’ve certainly tried, and undoubtedly benefitted from, a probiotic beverage or food unknowingly while dining. Perhaps a Japanese Miso soup, or Korean Kimchi has touched your lips?

You could say my fermentation exploration started in college when I used ‘mealpoints’ at UC San Diego’s Earl’s Place, the on-campus co-op, to buy my first kombucha. To my co-ed delight, ‘bucha left me slightly buzzed in between cram sessions at Geisel Library

English: Geisel Library, UCSD

Geisel Library, UCSD
Named after a writer named Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss!
(Wikipedia)

But really, this ride began with kimchi, the fermented spicy cabbage dish for which South Korea is famous.

Indeed it did…and in the land of Kimchi, nonetheless.

Kimchi

Kimchi (korea.net)

In 2010, I embarked on a one-year journey to South Korea, adding ‘English as a Second Language Kindergarten Teacher’ to my already…um…varied? exciting? ADD?… resume.

Admin at a Malibu holistic wellness center, beach camp counselor, editorial, PR, television, and talent agency intern, model, actor, fine dining hostess…preschool teacher to cute Korean kiddos all before the age of 24? Okay!

I’d never felt so healthy as I did that year. On top of daily kimchi-munching, I began brewing kombucha, a fermented tea, nurturing my first batches from my lil’ apartment with no windows (aka the Yoga Cocoon). The brewlove was inspired by Aimee, a free-spirit and dear friend who now organizes Project Hope Art in Haiti.

One sticky July afternoon, a special circle of chingus, or friends in Korean, gathered at Aimee’s community garden spot at the edge of Seoul for her going-away party.

The Garden Party July 2010

The Garden Party
July 2010

‘Who’s to be handed down the brew?’ was a hot question on our well-stocked table full of every vegetable you could think of: lettuce leaves, radishes, cabbage, seaweed, fresh and kimchi’d alike, and magguli (rice wine, another fermentation) -filled table. (Thank you, Seoul Community Garden ajjimas and ajjashis, or Korean elder folk, for providing such abundance in our chingu’s honor).

‘Not too fret’, answered Aimee. One chingu would receive the master brew and mushroom. From that master mushroom, if we kept it well fed with black tea and sugar, top layers may be ripped off and shared with friends who could then start their own brew. The rest of the afternoon is a bit blurry with much soju, magguli, and ukulele sing-alongs flowing. A few days later, Aimee sent us future brewmasters a link via facebook with precise brewing instructions. Although Aimee left only a month later, her legacy lived on as the rest of us chingus who were sticking around for a while carried on the kombucha batch and delved deeper into additional fermentation methods.

We got so into the craft of fermentation that we held fermentation tasting parties with blind-taste contests. Only a week after my own departure, a “Fermentation Celebration” was held, organized by the aforementioned chingus, where all thing fermented were celebrated by us foreigners…yogurt, kefir, kombucha, Caucasian attempts at alcohol and kimchi-making, cheese, you name it.

In my humble, but well-read and personally tested, Beach Girl Abroad and Modern Day Wildwoman opinion, fermented foods and drinks absolutely contribute to a healthy body and a happy state of mind. Did you know most of our serotonin, the body’s ‘happy hormone’, is produced in our gut, not our brain? With the help of beneficial bacteria in our tummies, our bodies produce a healthy dose of serotonin.

 

Peace, love, namaste, happiness!

Beach Girl Abroad 

Eat: Balance the Minerals Broth

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Trace minerals are important in keeping our nerves functioning properly.

An excellent source of TM’s? Veggie broth.

During my year living in South Korea, a broth-based soup was served with every meal, including breakfast.

Let me tell you, I’ve never felt healthier than during that year.

Try making this easy broth on a Sunday evening to keep on hand so you can sip throughout the week.

Pour into a mug on the way to school or work, add the broth to a heartier soup for a meal, or sip as a warming tea in the evening.

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Bottoms up for Trace Mineral Balance!
courtesy of Chef Beach Girl

To boiling water add:
Chard leaves and stems
Celery stalks
1 white sweet potato
1 red sweet potato
1/2 onion
3 clove garlic
A few carrots and their greens
1 Beet
1 turnip
Whatever other veggies you’ve got on hand!
Herbs from garden (I used rosemary)
Optional: Himalayan Pink Salt to taste
Optional: chicken or chicken bone for protein and/or flavor

Simmer for a few hours and voila! Mineral broth. Eat with veggies for extra fiber or without. Mmmmm.

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