How are you? I am well. Life is good. It is full, positive and flowing. This past year has really been about taking time to dive deep into myself, to enjoy all the beauty in my world, and to surrender fully to what is. Inspiration has been a big “theme” that has been popping up for me lately. Creative flow and energy to share and to shine. Also a real desire to live fully. To experience the energy of being here, now in this beautiful body, on this wonderful planet. We are so blessed.
What’s happening at Ananda Ayurveda
Ananda means bliss in sanskrit. I find that beautiful heart opening energy in all the work that I do. There is an abundance of connections and flow with clients and community all over the world these days. The power of distance healing is amazing, and we are so blessed to be able to share so easily with technology.
All of what I offer is available by distance- except for the luxurious bodywork, and the effects of this work is profound.
Yoga classes are still held in two beautiful places- Monday evenings are at Yum Yoga Studio in Cowichan Bay, 4:30-6:00. Wednesday’s are at a new location, at the warm and wonderful Harmony Yoga Studio, also 4:30-6:00. Both spaces are beautiful, and the classes are a wonderful opportunity to deepen your relationship with yourself and your body.
Also take time to check us out in January’s issue of the Valley Voice– we are honoured to be featured in a winter skin care article.
photo- by Christy Greenwood
Vector sun background. Only for your design
Life. It is like a river that flows, winding in different directions and at different intensities. The only thing that is constant it seems, is change and movement. Energy is the same way, it’s always moving, always flowing in patterns and waves. Even our mind, it is never still, always thinking, creating, spinning stories and dreams. Life is pulsing with movement and fullness.
I notice that when I step into the flow, and step out of the idea of control that I can fully embrace life. This crazy, vibrant and exciting thing that we are. So often I get locked into the ideas, the stories, the thoughts, what I think I “know”.
I ask my self lately what it would it be like to move through my day with the openness and innocence of a child. To watch things unfold with wonder and to move from within my body, from an embodied space. I have been blessed with the fortune to have some experiences lately that have fully opened me, not only to the truth of what I am, but also to the possibilities that are available to us all in any moment. It is so simple, we just need to remember that the mind is what it is. Every thought, opinion, emotion is an idea created by this big blob of magical grey matter in our heads.The nervous system gets involved too, and our chakras, our DNA might speak up, but it’s our attachment to our beliefs that keep us from realizing our true potential.
At the heart of it all though is light, energy flow, beauty, acceptance and love; true, divine love. It doesn’t mean being blissful all the time, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t human, and aren’t going to have ups and downs. It seems to mean for me, in this moment at least, moving and living from a different place in my body, and in my energy field. Feeling centre, being light embodied. Not living out of my body, but enjoying the currents of life moving through it. Watching with innocence my humanness and smiling softly at myself when I notice how caught up in it I am. Perhaps most of all, being soft and gentle and loving to myself. In love with who I am, what I am, letting things settle and not trying to control, or to attach to any outcome. Just witnessing with sweetness and with love.
Warming, nourishing, and so yummy. This is my favourite chai recipe- it was shared with me by my colleague, Carisa Wilder, and I make it a few times a week. It is especially lovely in vata season, the creaminess is grounding and the spices heat the body up in the best way. Try it, it’s guaranteed to make you feel cozy and warm
2 cups water
1 cup milk (nut, seed or raw organic local milk)
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp coriander
3 slices chopped ginger
3 pieces cinnamon bark (not whole sticks)
3-4 pods cardamom crushed
Boil all the herbs in 2 cups water. Then simmer for 15 minutes. Add milk and cook for 5-10 minutes more. Sweeten with honey or maple syrup.
Just For Fun
One of my favourite artists is Michael Franti. He is fun, light, and usually shares a positive message- Just thought I would share one of my favourite songs with you today- Turn it up and have a little dance party in your living room- I’ll be dancing with you. I love you 🙂
A lovely sharing from a client I have worked with by distance with Healing Light Yoga, and Ayurvedic Integrative Counselling- Thanks Kelli, it has been my honour and my pleasure to work with you.
“I knew once I met Asrael as a practitioner in her Healing Light Yoga class that she would be able to assist me on my ever-evolving spiritual journey. I had come to a crossroads in my life, career and spiritual practice where I felt stuck and needed the assistance of someone who could not only understand all of these factors on a high level but could help me get “unstuck.” I was looking for someone that had a foundation and background in yoga and Ayurveda and could “speak my language” about some very profound events that were shaping my life and forcing me to change rapidly. Asrael was the exact person that I needed and she has been an amazing spiritual coach. Her depth and understanding is not only rich but compassionate and supportive. She has guided me through a series of sessions that have had a tremendous affect on me and that have also created the necessary shifts necessary needed. She has assisted in helping me overcome some deep fears and anxieties that have kept me in a “comfort zone” for a very long time but were no longer serving me and needed to be released. I will continue to work with Asrael as I find her to be a critical professional in my life. If you are seeking Asrael as a coach on any or all of these levels you have found a gem- look no further.”- Kelli, Oregon, U.S.A
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and beautiful start to the new year. Thanks so much for your continued support, and for the energy that you share. We are all connected, so with each smile, each moment of gratitude, and acceptance, we help each other step into our awakened and vibrant selves.
I hope this email finds you all well and wonderful. It seems like such a long time since I have shared with you all. Much has been going on in my life- abundance, flow and deep enjoyment of all things that are arising. This spring was filled with travel and teaching- We completed the first Yoga Wellness Professional Course- and finished it off with an intensive in beautiful California- you can see pictures here, and I recently returned from a well deserved rest in Hawaii. The world and life continues to move quickly around me, yet there is a sense of peace and calm that I am embracing in my life and my practice. Joy seems to be a current running through my mind and being these days- and of course gratitude for all and everything around me. I am looking forward to sharing more with you all, and the world as a whole in the time to come. We will be offering the Yoga Wellness Pro course again this September, its an amazing experience whether for personal growth or for sharing with your community. I hope to also be announcing another session of Healing Light Yoga Therapy soon. And of course I am drawn to creating some wonderful retreats in vibrant locations around the globe, just need to make the time to create. I am also excited to announce that I have been featured as one of the Top 5 Ayurvedic Practitioners in the Vancouver Area– by Crowd Wellness-Stay tuned to all and everything new that will come.
Yoga classes are still held in two beautiful places- Monday evenings are at Yum Yoga Studio in Cowichan Bay, 4:30-6:00. Wednesday’s are in the lovely chapel at Providence Farm, also 4:30-6:00, and as soon as the weather brightens a bit more we will be outside in the meadow.Both spaces are beautiful, and the classes are an opportunity to deepen your relationship with yourself and your body.
I want to talk about the freedom of being me. I want to share about the light that exists within us all. I want to offer a reminder on the importance of nature in our lives, and how that nature is just a refection of ourselves. That nature is also a reminder that we are a small piece in a much larger web of life. I want to share about the kindness that is inherent in all of us, and how if we can just turn it towards our own beautiful self, then we can more easily share that love with the world. I want to express the importance of play, of joy in our lives. I want to share all this and more.
There is so much to share, so much moving for so many of us. The ways the universe shows itself are countless, and it is different in each of our realitys. Sometimes this movement is light and blissful, and other times it is like banging against a rock wall. However life is blossoming for you right now, it is the right way. The path is clear, even when it feels stuck. Life is not a struggle- it is a movement of energy, just like a leaf falling off a tree- sometimes it softly lands on the ground, and other times its swept away in a whirlwind. Watching the dolphins play in the sea, seeing the manta ray beneath me softly moving towards deeper sea, experiencing the life that is so much bigger than me. It doesn’t matter how fast I move with it, or against it. It doesn’t matter if I struggle and push, or softly accept (well it may be easier if I surrender, or at least more enjoyable), but life continues. My energy flows. My story of me turns the page.
What a breath of fresh air this knowledge is. To know that I am always moving, always alive, always bright. That I don’t NEED to struggle, and that i have the choice to react differently, to move more softly, to ride the waves with presence but also joy. That any resistance is held energy, patterns perhaps, or just a mistake of my mind wanting to be in control. It sounds so simple, and it really is. In its beautiful, innate way it is the simplest thing we can do. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean that it happens instantly, (it could I suppose). For me it seems to come in waves, and it all comes together when I remember that I am just a small fish in a large sea of life, and that I have the choice, and the willingness to be part of the ocean of life, and to ride the beautiful, sometimes tumultuous adventure of being human.
Some things that help me are a daily meditation practice, stepping outside and feeling the natural world, connecting with my loved ones, getting good rest, and reminding myself that I don’t need to hurry. I can intend, I can manifest, I can desire and want, but I don’ t need to move out of force, or fear or anything but joy towards the goals of my heart. It will be there for me- whether it directs me on a long, windy road or a short direct one. If I take my time and look around, either journey can be filled with beauty and connection.
In celebrating nature, we celebrate ourselves. Here is a taste of the magic that flows everyday in life- as the dolphins swim and play in Honaunau Hawaii. I have been blessed to swim many times with these magical beings, here is just a taste of the light they share by just being (just like us). Video by Jeffery Fogel.
Recipe- Dosa With Sambar
One of my favourite dishes in India is the Dosa. A fermented pancake that is wonderfully easy to make (don’t let all the steps scare you), and tastes so good. In Ayurveda we usually stay away from fermented foods, but this is an exception to that rule. Its often served with sambar (recipe included) and lovely with a coconut chutney. But can be eaten with a regular dal or whatever you like. If you would like a more filling meal you can also put spiced vegetables on the pancake, roll it up and have a masala dosa.
Dosa With Sambar
Dosa Step 1 1 cup split urad dal (or moong dal) 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
Step 2 Water 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek 1 tsp salt pinch of asafoetida
Step 3 Ghee or Coconut Oil
1. Clean and wash dal and rice separately. Place in separate bowls and cover with 3 times as much water. Soak overnight 2. In the morning, drain. Combine in a blender or food processor with enough water to make a thick pancake batter. The consistency of the batter should be smooth. Blend in the asafoetida, the fenugreek and the salt. 3. Cover and let sit unrefrigerated, until tiny bubbles form on the surface and the mixture smells sour. In the summer this can happen overnight, in cooler weather it can take up to 36 hours. You will know its worked when it has increased in size and may be lighter and foamier looking.
To Cook 1. Put some oil on a large skillet on medium high heat. Cast Iron is the best, as it gets crispier. Pour a little batter on the the skillet- and use the spoon in a spiral motion to spread the batter as thin as possible. See this great youtube link for a clearer idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6ztX7C7YR0
2. When the surface is almost cooked turn it over and let cook a few more minutes on the other side.
Have fun with this- it may be a thick pancake you come out with, its not always easy to get it just right- but its a tasty treat and with practice and the right temperature skillet easy to make a paper thin dosa.
Sambar Step 1 1 cup Toor Dal or Split Mung Dal 6 cups water
Step 2 2 Tbs sunflower oil 1 tsp cumin seepds 1/2 tsp urad dal (optional) 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
Step 3 2 medium tomatoes chopped 1 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp turmeric 1 Tbs sambar powder 2 tsp sugar
Step 4 2 tsp tamarind paste mixed with 1/4 cup hot water salt 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
1. Wash Toor Dal thoroughly. Place in Water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the dal is tender. 2. Heat oil in a small skillet. Add the urad dal and saute over low heat, stirring frequently until the dal starts to darken. Add the hing, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds and saute until the mustard seeds dance. 3. Add the tomatoes, pepper, turmeric, Sambar Powder, and sugar. Cook, stirring constantly until tomatoes are mushy. 4. Add the spice mix to the dal, add the tamarind mixture. Add salt to taste. Simmer 5-10 minutes for flavours to blend. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.
1. Place all the spices except for the turmeric into a dry skillet. Toast over low heat, stirring constantly until spices become fragrant. 2. Stir in turmeric and remove from heat.
Recipe courtesy of Heaven’s Banquet by Miriam Hospodor 🙂
Once again just extending my deepest gratitude to you all for taking the time to read this. I wish you all a beautiful and wonderful spring, and encourage you all to take time to feel your own connection to nature, however that may be. Take time to breathe, to look around and to look inside, and to embrace the brilliance of your own part in this amazing world. Namaste Asrael
I wanted to share a few pictures from the 4 day Yoga Wellness Professional Retreat- A delightful moment to connect with students near and far, and for them to practice and share all the knowledge they have learned. What a magical time:)
Photos by Asrael Zemenick and Samantha Mee
Roses Are The Best Medicine
Beautiful Meadow By Our Home
Kitchen Where We Cooked Ayurvedic Delights
Georgia Taking Her Pulse
Palm Tree Love
Bird Of Paradise
View From The Deck
Question Time For Students
Hanging Out in the kitchen
Working With Students By Distance
Always Enjoying Ourselves
So blessed to be able to teach alongside my teacher
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian healing system, still widely practiced today. It teaches that illness arises when the body is in a state of imbalance and, in order to maintain good health, we must ensure our energy systems are in sync with each other. These energy systems are known as the three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. The way in which the doshas interact directly affects your physical, mental and emotional health.
In the modern would, we’re more prone to illnesses caused by stress and anxiety. The key to overcoming and preventing such issues lies within our ability to cope with the demands of everyday life. Here are some of the top tips, taken from the Ayurveda approach to health, to help you keep calm and relax:
Make Time Each Day to Unwind and Relax
Relaxation and meditation are both key to good health. In order to ensure balance between the three doshas, we must take time out of each day to unwind.
Not only does the time out enable you to relax, but it can also help you gain mental clarity and gain an improved self-understanding. The benefits of meditation are far reaching, and have also been linked to the prevention of physical ailments (e.g. hypertension).
Indulge in Ayurvedic Treatments
A wide range of Ayurvedic treatments are available to help accelerate the process of achieving a balanced state and improve your ability to relax and unwind. Many of the treatments have been designed with relaxation in mind, and use a variety of techniques (e.g. the application of medicated oils and massage) to address your individual requirements.
To get the most from your Ayurvedic treatments, it’s important to think about what you want to achieve. This will enable you to choose the treatment package most suited to your needs. Many therapists will offer a special de-stress package to address problems related to stress and anxiety, helping you unwind and relax. For example, Samsara Mind and Body offer a package to include a whole body massage (Abhyanga), a foot massage (Pada Abhyanga) and forehead oil flow treatment (Shirodhara). If you are in London, you can visit Samsara Ayurveda. If you are in British Columbia, visit Asrael at Ananda Ayurveda for these luxurious and nourishing treatments.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
Central to Ayurveda is the principle that most ailments can be avoided with good nutrition. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, you should eat according to your body type, which is characterised according to the most dominant dosha within your body.
If you have an imbalance led by vata, you may experience symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and dehydration. If you eat large amounts of bitter or spicy foods, you’re likely to make the problem worse. Instead, you should focus on sweet, sour and easily digestible foods, such as fruit, cooked vegetables, and warm milk.
Listen to Your Body
It is important to listen to your body, and assess any signs of imbalance. If it feels like something is wrong, it’s an indication there’s an imbalance between your doshas. Correctly assessing the symptoms can help you attribute the problems to dominance within one dosha, enabling you to recover and restore balance.
To assess the symptoms, you need to take time each day to think about how you’re feeling, and recognise any difficulties you have experienced during the day.
Monitor and Disengage from Negative Thoughts
Negative thinking is one of the leading causes of stress and illness in the modern world. In order to live a peaceful, relaxed life, you must learn to disengage from the negative thoughts. To do this, you should actively monitor your thoughts, and learn to recognise when a negative thought enters your mind. Once you’ve identified a negative thought, it’s important to accept it, without allowing any further negative energy. Take control of the situation, whilst understanding why the negative thought has entered your mind. You should counter the negative thought with positive thoughts and actions.
Info On Samsara Mind And Body: Samsara is London’s leading Ayurveda center. We offer a range of Ayurveda treatments that include Shirodhara, Mukhabhyanga and Akshi Tarpana. All our treatments begin with a full consultation and our team have many years expertise. We’re located in Wandsworth South London.
As many of you know, Ayurveda really is the knowledge of our connection to nature; our own personal nature as well as the nature of the universe. I find that December is a wonderful time to embrace the natural cycles of our being as we deepen our experience of our own inward journey. In the northern hemisphere the nights become longer and darker, which helps to foster the sense of hibernation; slowing down, taking rest and allowing all to be exactly as it is. For many of us the season shifts to winter, which is often cold and dry (Vata Dosha). Nourish and nurture are two of my key words at this time. It feels so good to honour my sacred self with sweetness, love and gentle routine, to not force but to gently surrender to the moment- listening and accepting all that life is.
Life has been full, wonderfully full- Yoga classes are now held at 2 different locations. Monday evenings are at Yum Yoga Studio in Cowichan Bay, 4:30-6:00. Wednesday’s are in the lovely chapel at Providence Farm, also 4:30-6:00. Both spaces are beautiful, and the classes are an opportunity to deepen your relationship with yourself and your body.
December is a time of darkness, deep reflection, and a wonderful opportunity to rest, restore and care for your self. I am finding that this year more than ever I am drawn to gentle routine, and grounded practices that allow me to enjoy the body I am in, and the being that I am. Many people get swept up in the holiday flow and find it hard to settle. I notice that these practices help me stay centred, and in alignment to my natural needs at this cold time of year.
1. Meditation- It is such a gift to take a few minutes a day to be with myself. Letting go of of anything and everything except the experience of me. Taking some time in gentle silence or with a subtle mantra releases held stress, brings clarity and allows my heart to shine brighter. A short daily meditation practice (20 minutes) shifts things profoundly in my day and my life. I find it grounding, energizing and necessary for balance and peace.
2. Self Oil Massage (Soul Hug)- One of my favourite daily practices is an Ayurvedic Self Massage (Abhyanga). Nurturing and nourishing, it is delightful to feel the warm oil on the skin, as it soaks into all the cells in the body, supporting our energy flow and healthy function of the lymph, organs and digestion. I love to take some extra time on my belly and my heart centre, always giving extra love where its needed. Enjoy the video posted below for a brief introduction, and message me for more information- I am happy to send you a instructional video to watch.
3. Yoga/Movement- Our bodies stiffen up in the winter weather, and one of the best remedies for this is taking some time to breathe and move. Yoga is a wonderful way to awaken our body/spirit connection, being with the breath as we gently open to the day. Again just a few minutes creates room for huge transformation. Deep Breaths and Surrendering Stretches = Balanced Being
4. Walking Outside- Nature nurtures always. In our society we get so habituated to staying inside, being warm, spending time online, or at work. If we could all take 5 minutes to just step outside and breathe in some fresh air our health would improve. In winter with the lack of light, the natural cycles of the universe are so apparent. We are part of this nature, and the more we disconnect from it (staying inside all day), the more we disconnect from our own nature. Walk outside, look around, feel the elements and enjoy. It is great to take a longer walk if you have time, or to get to the forest, the sea, or the mountains- but even just stepping outside with the intention of attention will bring balance to the being.
These are just a few ways that we can find routine and comfort at this time of year. I would love to hear what settles you in your body and your growth.
Self Massage Intro Video
It is a celebratory time of year, and with the cold, dry energy our body often craves sweet flavours to bring us into a warm grounded place. While sugar is not the best thing for us in large amounts (in any form), we still need to embrace the 6 tastes in our diet, and sweetness is balancing at this time of year. Fruit is always nice, but best if it is cooked, or baked so that it is more easily digestible. I thought I would share with you a few healthy Ayurvedic Sweet Treats to enjoy on the cold, dark evenings.
Heat the ghee, add the spices and cook until the moisture has steamed off
– courtesy of New World Ayurveda
2 large ripe pears
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
(optional) coconut milk, almond milk, yogurt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the pears in half and place on a baking sheet. Scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with cinnamon, top with walnuts and raisins, drizzle 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup over each one. Bake in the oven 30 minutes. Enjoy!
Remember one of the best ways to increase digestion is to enjoy your food. So nourish your body with the healthy sweet treats and enjoy the richness of natures bounty.
Gift Certificates Are Available- Give the gift of Ayurveda or Yoga to a loved one. Many offerings are available by distance, and all are available in person.
New Yoga Class- Tuesday morning, 9:30-11:00 at Yum Yoga in Cowichan Bay. Starting January 6. Call me for more info 250 597 3973 Healing Light Yoga Therapy Workshop
Saturday, January 17 9:30-11:00 $40
Georgias Bella Yoga Studio, Metchosin, BC
Wishing you from my deepest heart the most wonderful Solstice and holiday season. Feel your inner light and allow it to shine. For each moment we touch our own brightness it reflects out to the universe in a brilliant wave of energy that allows for transformation and peace for all.
Namaste, Happy September:) I hope that this past summer has been full of abundance and bliss for you all. My life has been wonderfully full. I am so blessed to live in such an amazing community where my business and my life is complemented by so many amazing beings. The sun has been shining a lot, and the rays of light have touched all the areas of my life, there is expansion and growth in all things. I havebeen blessed to be supported by music and nature during my outdoor yoga classes at Providence Farm, and our new Yoga Wellness Professional Course that integrates Ayurveda and Yoga has started . I am also part of a Yogini Collective, and we are offering a wonderful morning of Yoga For The Coast, on September 20, there is more info below if you would like to donate from afar, and please come join us if you are local.
There is so much happening. I am excited to announce that in October my MondayYoga classes will be held at Yum Yoga Studio in Cowichan Bay, 4:30-6:00. Wednesday’s will continue at the chapel at Providence Farm, also 4:30-6:00. We will be at Providence both days in September- outside in the Orchard if the weather holds, and in the chapel if it’s cool and/or wet.
This is a long newsletter this month- A good portion of it is dedicated to yoga and sleep, as I was asked to share a blog with that as the subject. I did want to share a short spirit based message as well. Simple and sweet. Take care of yourself this autumn season. Listen to the inner voice within, and the outer voice that speaks through your body. Rest when you need too. Give love to your dreams. Nurture your spirit. And always trust that the path of your journey is unfolding exactly as it needs to. It is ALL perfect. You ARE ready for it. Take time to enjoy your own magical experience of this moment.
The Healing Power Of Sleep
Sleep, that magical and sometimes elusive place, where our body, mind and spirit can rejuvenate, relax, release the stress, and integrate the energy of our busy lives. The deep rest that our bodies gain from the downtime of sleep is essential for radiant health and well- being. I was asked by a eco sleep company to share a blog post about my favourite yoga routines for bed- and so I hope you enjoy this sleep routine- it’s the perfect way to soothe your way to deep and restful sleep.
Deep Rest- Yoga Style
Remember- Best sleep happens before 10 pm. The natural bioryhthyms of the body are able to feel natures support and turn inward with an earlier bedtime. So try to shut the electronics down by 9 pm, and give your self some time to turn inward with this peaceful practice.
Yoga is so much more than just the physical practice. It IS the integration of our body and consciousness. One of the best ways to bridge the gap between our body and spirit is with the breath. And there is no better way to relax our body and mind then with subtle breathing techniques. When I feel ready to settle down. I always start by taking a few deep breaths, and then I move onto Nadi Shodan- (alternate nostril breathing).
This is a great practice to do at anytime of the day, as it brings balance to the left and right sides of the brain and the body. It is especially nourishing to the nervous system, it clears the mind, and it releases stress. All in all it is a wonderful practice to do right before bed.
Sit comfortably and relax your body (you can be in a chair or cross legged). Let yourself smile softly- it not only relaxes the jaw. It feels good.
Relax your left hand on your left thigh- palm up.
Place the tip of your index finger and middle finger of your right hand on the base of the hand just below the thumb. The ring and pinky finger are extended as is the thumb.
Take a deep, soft inhale.
With the thumb of your right hand close off the right nostril and exhale out the left nostril. Let the exhale be slow and soundless.
Slowly inhale into the left nostril.
Close the left nostril with the ring and the pinky finger of the right hand. Pause for a comfortable moment.
Slowly exhale out of the right nostril .
Inhale in the right nostril, close the right nostril, pause and breathe out the left.
Repeat the process.
I encourage you to take a minimum of 4 rounds with this. You can then increase the rounds to as many times as you like. This beautiful pranayama practice prepares our being for deep relaxation. It is wonderful to do right before bed.
Yoga Asana-Preparing The Body For Supported Sleep
As we move into the yoga postures, I thought I would just share a few of my favourites- any and all of these are great for helping to relax the body, and to prepare for a blissful sleep. I usually do one or two of these an evening, and spend 5 minutes or more in each posture. Try them out, see what feels good to for your body. Take the time to get comfortable and to relax into them, use pillows and blankets to get comfortable, shut the lights off. You can even do most of these on your bed, so that you can just drift off to sleep afterwards (or even during). Be with the breath for as long as you can, and most of all- Enjoy yourself.
Childs Pose- Balasana
This is a beautiful asana of surrender, and acceptance. Child’s pose is extremely relaxing and restoring. It restores the parasympathetic nervous system, is grounding, and a wonderful place to take solace and rest in. This Asana is extremely soothing and relaxing and will calm an overactive mind. It helps us to release stress from our bodies, and to feel the natural and safe support of the universe.
Begin by coming to a hands and knees table position, Take a few breaths here, (if you like feel free to do the cat stretch, massaging your spine for a few inhales and exhales).
Bring the big toes together, and spread the knees wide apart as you sink your sit bones back to your heels.
Allow your upper body to melt into the earth, the arms outstretched in front of you, palms down. Forehead resting flat on the floor.
Breathe deeply, all the way to your belly, and allow yourself to surrender to the moment, allow your thoughts to float by, and see if you can revisit the innocence and peace of a child.
Modifications– Feel free to place a bolster underneath your belly for added support and relaxation. A pillow may feel good between your sit bones and your heels.
Supported Fish Pose- Matsyasana
Wonderful and restorative, this asana, opens the heart, allowing you to release your mind and to come into a more connected state of being.
1. Using a bolster, a cushion, a bed pillow folded in half, or a rolled up blanket or towel, lay down with your spine and your head supported, your pelvis and legs will be resting on the floor
2. If your lower back feels tight, place a smaller, lower pillow underneath your sit bones.
3. Allow your arms to come down by your side, palms spread open in a gesture of receptivity. Your shoulders will be releasing towards the floor.
Come out by rolling onto your side and removing the bolster. Make any movements that feel good to you.
Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)- With Or Without A Bolster
A wonderful posture to relax, open and be with. This asana is wonderful for grounding and restoring energy. This asana is extremely rejuvenating to our abdominal area. It ignites the flow of the 2nd chakra and empowers the integration of emotions.
1. Lie flat on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet together flat on the ground. Slide your heels comfortably towards the sit bones.
2. Allow your knees to naturally open and float towards the ground creating a stretch across the inner thighs and groin. Place pillows under each knee as high as needed to be comfortable, it is not about straining or stretching, it is about comfort, the opening will come over time and with the breath. Place the soles of your feet together as the outer edge of feet rest on the ground. Feel free to place a small pillow underneath your head if it feels good.
3. Notice if your lower back is arched (if you aren’t using a bolster), and if it is adjust your body so that the lower back is on the ground, or that there is a slight pelvic tilt. Again, we want no straining
4. If the knees or thighs feel strained at all, even with the pillows move the feet away from the sit bones, this will still be opening. Soles of the feet are still together.
5. Hands can go where you like, some of my favorites are: arms spread out to the sides, palms up, palms over the heart or palms on the belly.
To come out of the pose you can either bring your knees up to the chest and give your self a big hug, or stretch the legs out one by one.
Modifications- Feel free to use a bolster underneath your back for extra heart opening. For extra shoulder opening place a bolster above your head and let your arms rest on it- If there are any tingling sensations, then release the arms to your sides. An eye pillow can be really nice too.
Legs Up A Wall (Wide Legged Or Together)
This is a pose that detoxifies as it relaxes, supporting your body, relaxing your energy, and at the same time cleansing your immune system and lymph nodes. This asana is extremely rejuvenating to the body and very soothing to our nervous system. It helps to support the natural flow of energy in the body, and sends all of the blood flow back to the heart and head .
Sit in front of a wall with your right hip and shoulder touching the wall (or left, whatever is comfortable for you)
Bend your knees and roll onto your left side and back, so that your legs come up against the wall, heels resting on the wall
Have your sit bones 6 inches away from the wall (can be further if you have really tight hamstrings)
Rest your hands where they are comfortable, on the belly, by your sides, over your head, or on your heart.
Try to stay here for 5-10 minutes breathing fully, and relaxing
Modifications: Place the soles of the feet together, in a modified bound angle, if you like you can place a bolster under the lower back, or a pillow underneath your head.
Legs On A Chair
A deeply relaxing asana, wonderful for the lower back, and accessible to Everybody. Similar to legs against the wall, but more supported and easier to let go in. Enjoy and allow yourself to melt into your being.
1. Place a blanket on the chair if you like to make it softer for your legs. If the chair is tall, feel free to place a folded blanket underneath your lower back for additional height and comfort.
3. Lie on your back, and lift your legs onto the chair, so that they are supported and relaxed, the knees are bent, the spine is straight, and your heart is open.
4. Palms can be by your sides, or on your stomach, or heart, wherever feels right to you~ knowing that you can move them at any time.
5. Reconnect with your breath, breathing deeply, softening and opening.
Modifications- You can use a pillow underneath your head if you like, or a soft neck support. Its your practice, do what makes you feel comfortable. Know that you are facilitating deep healing and relaxation in this asana.
To come out, gently bring your knees to your chest, giving yourself a huge hug, rolling from side to side, massaging that lower back, and eventually rolling to one side, taking as much time as you need to rise up.
The wonderful time in our practice when we let go and just release drifting away into a space of deep relaxation and conscious awareness. Now is the time to let go, to surrender. Lie on your mattress and soften into it, let your eyes grow heavy. Let your legs and arms spread wide, and let go of your breath. You will notice that your entire being relaxes, and as it does feel the effects of your before bed yoga practice. Soften here for as long as you like, before you know it you will be melting into a comfortable, and deep sleep. Sweet Dreams.
It is important to nourish our bodies not only with our sleep, but with what we sleep on. Healthy, organic and chemical free bedding, and mattresses are the only way to go. I want to extend my gratitude to Casper Sleep for asking me to be a part of their blog, check them out for a great mattress, and for those of you who live locally on Vancouver Island, we have a great natural sleep resource right here in Duncan- Rest House . Sleep easy knowing your health and your body is being supported by nature.
Recipe Of The Month-
Stuffed Grilled Apples
Yes, You heard me correctly- Grilled Apples Stuffed with dried cherries, currents, almonds and sweetened with a touch of maple syrup. Melt In Your Mouth Goodness. I was gifted with a large box of apples by one of my yoga students this autumn, and my mom inspired me to try them on our grill. As a vegetarian we are always looking for fun ways to cook on the deck, and this is a recipe that can’t be beat.
4 Medium Tart Apples Cored
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 Tbs Coconut Oil
a pinch of saffron
Place each apple on a piece of foil
Toast coconut until brown. Melt coconut oil and spices with the coconut.
Combine ingredients and spoon into centre of the apples.
Fold foil over apples, seal tightly.
Grill covered over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until apples are tender.
Open foil tenderly to allow steam to escape.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I hope that the yoga poses encourage deep rest for your being, and help to nourish your soul. I hope to write more soon. As always I am grateful for your support and your time.