Give It Away And It Will Come Back

I love listening to Alan Watts.

It’s soothing, and such a great reminder of the kind of stuff I want to remember!  More MIND STUFF but it’s practical, nourishing and broadening for the mind, or at least for my mind . . .

I’ll be sharing lots of this sort of stuff here . . . For me, I like to listen to it when I’m preparing the dinner, or if I can’t sleep, or in my car on the way to/from work.  

Some say they don’t have time to listen or watch Youtube, I just swap TV & Facebook time for this sorta stuff  (Instagram still gets me though!!) . . . Anyhow I find it more meaningful, super interesting and enjoyable than most media, it keeps me positive and feeling pretty good about life!

It’s just a matter of tracking down the good stuff, and playing or copying to my iPod so I can listen in more ways.

Hope you dig it too!

Yoga For Wine Lovers

When: May 24th11:30AM – Assemble at Sydney Town Hall12:00PM – March to Hyde Park Fountain12:30PM – Speakers and music in the park GUYS! IF YOU AREN’T AWARE OF WHO MONSANTO ARE OR WHAT THEY DO . . .  you only have to look at the first 1o minutes of this doco to…

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Pure-Li Yoga Recommencing This Saturday!

So I’ve been in India with YOGA SYNERGY doing another teacher training!

 

Headst

 

 

And then I was back home in Ireland, hanging out with my fabulous family!!

(Pure-Li Yoga Youtube coming one of these days for you mum & sis!)

Pure-Li Yoga - Vico Yoga

It was all wonderful and now I’m back and rearing to go!

 

See you for a special practice this Saturday 7am – 8.30am, upstairs in the Sun Lounge Room, at St. Michael’s Anglican Church Vaucluse. and we’ll get the blood flowing, the energy moving, the spine mobilised, the endorphins running riot, the joints lubricated, the sides of the mouth lifting, the eyes smiling, the heart calm, the breath steady, the mind peaceful, the inner light of awareness SHINING, spirits lifted, the world a happier place, and so on, and so on, and so on!!

Hope to see you there!

Love Lila, xo

Kiss

I loved this …

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2014!

 Happy St. Patrick’s Day Folkiedoodles!

I’ve put together a snippet of some of my favourite Irish things for you, while I sit here in the sweltering heat of Goa, India …

A Woman’s Heart.

Here it is, the full album, courtesy of Clare Kelly on Youtube!

Any person that lived in Ireland in the early ’90s, will know probably EVERY SINGLE WORD OF EACH SONG from this brilliant album!!  ESPECIALLY if you’re female!

Hard to believe it’s 22 YEARS OLD!!!  Feels just like yesterday!

The album was initially recorded as a low budget sampler project by small Irish label Dara records, but it soon struck a chord with the Irish people and soared in to the album charts at Number 1, where it stayed for over four months.

Although the album was mainly made up of contemporary songs at the time, it also mixed traditional melodies with haunting ballads, giving it a distinctly new Irish sound that I adore.

I don’t know about you, but I love an aul’ podcast!  Especially while I’m doing stuff in the kitchen.  Here’s a cute one from the Irish National Broadcaster, that was made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the album, a couple of years back.

RTÉ.ie Radio 1: Documentary on One – Our Women’s Hearts.

 

Jac O’Keeffe

I love this woman!  She talks about the stuff I’m finding fascinating, and I love how she does it!!  VERY Irish, she reminds me of one of my dear friends Bairbre (Babs you’re like sisters!) the way she talks and laughs!  It might be a bit far out there for some … but to me I’m slowly getting the flow of what it’s all about … of course it’s MY MIND that is getting stimulated by it all …. someday maybe, the non-dualistic life for me will come to be … until then, I’m loving listening to her, check out her other vids!

 

Michael D. Higgins, the current President of Ireland

A 2010 interview between Michael D. Higgins, who was elected President of Ireland in 2011, and Boston conservative radio host Michael Graham.  This contentious encounter occurred during a May 28 special broadcast of The Right Hook, a NewsTalk radio program hosted by conservative Irish radio pundit George Hook. The fiery Higgins, a longtime leftist politician and human rights activist, takes Graham, a Tea Party organizer, to task for the party’s criticisms of President Obama and its strident opposition to the White House’s health care reform bill.

 

LOVE/HATE

This brilliant RTÉ crime drama has been massive in Ireland and is now working it’s way around the globe!  WE LOVE IT!!  Here is the opening scene of the first episode … sorry it’s not great picture quality .. highly recommend this series!

 

YOUR BAD SELF

This sketch cracks me up into tears every time!  I love this show, they’ve got some of Ireland’s BEST actors!

This one … PRICELESS!!

 

 

REPUBLIC OF TELLY

You know you’re Irish when … (Contains swear words)

 

A Son Pretends To Have Failed His Driving Test & An Irish Father’s Reaction!

NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART – MULTIPLE SWEAR WORDS

This home video went viral within hours of this brat uploading it to Facebook!  I think what’s so funny about this is not the swearing, it’s my semi-disbelief that this exchange could happen between a parent and child?!!  WTF!!!

And now, here’s me doing my bit for the country … back in the day!!

  Love Lila, xo 

My Raw Chocolate Brownies & Truffles Recipe

I prepared this post before I left for my trip to India … it’s time to post it and I’m looking longingly at what I’ve written … very much missing my almond milk here, and my kitchen full stop!!  

So here you go folks … ENJOY SOME FOR ME!

I love making fresh almond milk.

And it’s creeping comfortably into my routine of late, I seem to be preparing fresh batches every few days.  And then I realised I could freeze it!

It’s really satisfying to drink.

And  so much creamier, and tastier than anything store bought.  Plus of course, it doesn’t have anything in it I don’t want, like crappy ‘vegetable’ oils, preservatives or the carcinogenic and inflammatory carageenan which are some common additives you’ll find in store bought packs.

Once you’ve separated the pulp from the milk, you can always add it to your breakfast cereal or smoothies, dry it out and store it in a jar to use as flour, but I wanted to make something else more solid with mine.

So the other day I made up these brownies and truffles with the left over almond pulp.

They are quite simply DELIGHTFUL, and what’s really handy about them is that they’re stored in the freezer, so they’re just sitting there waiting for you whenever you feel like something rich, sweet, and nutritious, and you don’t have to worry about keeping them fresh.

Their consistency straight from the freezer is surprisingly accessible – they’re cold – but not tooth-nervy cold, they’re firm but also sort of chewy.  

I’m thrilled with them!

This recipe makes up quite a lot of goodies – the quantity can be reduced accordingly, depending how much pulp you’ve got.  We go through quite a lot of almond milk, and I yielded approx. 30 brownies AND approx. 50 truffles, or maybe a little more?!

Now you can keep them plain, without adding any flavours to them for a pure chocolatey experience, but I’m a choc-orange and choc-mint fan, so I use these combos quite frequently …  you can add whatever flavours you love!  ‘Drop and try’ to find your desired taste – I used about 6 – 8 drops in this mix of each.

For a special occasion, some of you might even like to use Baileys or Kahlua or something like that?!  

I like to have a selection, so once the basic mix is blended, I separate it into little dishes and add the essences accordingly.
Medicine Flower

Medicine Flower Organic & Natural Flavours

I have a lovely collection of natural & organic food flavours, a brand called MEDICINE FLOWER, they are pure extractions without alcohol or additives.

But using a good quality 100% essential oil of orange or peppermint works too, and you can get them from your local herbalist/naturopath/healthfood store.  Quality oil and nothing less than 100% pure essential oil is best, maybe ask to check it’s food grade first, if you’re unsure.

I made my brownies plain with no flavours added, and the truffles using orange, and some more using mint essence.

These oils and essences might seem pricey, but you’re only using a few drops at a time so they last for ages.  I use them in smoothies and to flavour other foods, so it’s not just for one recipe!  (And you could even double up on their use by burning them in your oil burner to fragrance your home, or add to your bath if you so wish!)

 As I said, THIS MAKES A BIG BATCH.  Halve or quarter the ingredients if you need to, but remember they keep in the freezer so they won’t go off!

Ingredients:

1.5 cups almond pulp (squeezed, dry to touch)

1.5 cups raw unsalted cashew nuts

3 cups pitted dates, rinsed, or 1.5 cups date paste.

15 tablespoons raw organic cacao powder

12 tablespoons dessicated coconut (no nasties added)

1/2 cup rice malt syrup

10 drops liquid stevia

3 tablespoons of coconut sugar syrup (optional- just if like me, you’ve got some in a jar in the fridge!)

1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla powder (if you didn’t use my date paste recipe above)

A few drops each of 100% essential oil of peppermint and/or orange – to your taste

Maybe some fresh or freeze-fried raspberries to prettify.

  Method:

1. First place cashews in your food processor and process until they become small and turn to flour.

2. Add to the cashews, the date paste or dates & vanilla, process again until the mixture sticks together and the dates are well processed. (If you’re using dates, I like to squidge them as I throw them in, to be 100% sure there’s not one pit left in there!)

3. Add the remaining ingredients, and process again until the mixture turns a lovely dark chocolatey brown.  Stop processing before it gets too buttery.

4. Elect how much of your mixture you want to use as brownies and how much as truffles.

To Make My Bangin’ & Beauteous Brownies:

Decide if you’re going to add flavouring and add it here, mixing it in well, in separate bowls if making a selection, or perhaps keeping them just a chocolatey affair.  

Empty & scrape the mixture into a brownie dish or cake/oven pan that’s been lined with parchment paper and press down very firmly using your clean hands.

Place this raw almond pulp fudgey brownie mix into the freezer for at least one hour.

I like to slice mine up, sprinkle with chopped almonds, pistachios, or freeze-dried raspberries and keep them in sealed containers in the freezer ready at a moment’s notice for gob-popping!

Always keep them in the freezer to preserve and to retain their consistency.

To Make My Triumphant Truffles:

Add your flavouring if using.

Roll them into small balls (they are quite rich), I like to use gloves if I’m making balls for entertaining, it’s just polite really,  isn’t it?!

Roll the balls in chopped nuts or desiccated coconut or BOTH! and freeze!

Et Voilá … they’re the bomb!

 

Brownie Tray Lilapuds

Lay Brownie Mix On A Parchmented Dish & Freeze!

 

My Raw Chocolate Brownies & Truffles Recipe

Give them a whirl and tell me how you go!  

Hope you love them,

Lila, xo

Hurry Up And Slow Down!

I seem to go through phases of hurrying up to slow down!!

It drives me nuts!! (Yes, yoga teachers also feel the full gamut of emotions!  Still a human being last time I slowed down to check!))

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”OMG YES!  I’m feeling something strange … yet oddly familiar …. yes I think it’s that feeling of …  it’s … yes … I’m kinda remembering what this sitting-down-to-do-nothing feels like!”

Yoga provides many avenues of space for me. 

Here are SOME:

Space in the day to practise allows for some “me-time”, whether it’s a 20 minute asana practice, a ten minute meditation or pranayama practice, listening to podcasts and recordings on the Yoga Sutras/yoga philosophy whilst driving to work, a long Savasana on my lunch break or legs up the wall, or going along to one of my favourite led classes  – it’s time I need to consciously and decisevley set aside and MAKE happen for me.  And yoga is about more than getting along to a class, it can be as little as deciding to behave in a way that is the opposite of my habit (Eg. deciding not to let things drive me nuts!!), which provides a good outcome for all involved … and/or some of the above.  I guess it’s about living consciously.

Space in my body, in my spine, my muscles and joints by moving the body slowly, carefully, actively and intelligently … I try to do it on AND off the mat

Space in my head to stand back and have a good look at myself in order to make efforts to live more consciously … this gives me space from my thinking-mind and my being-self / inner light of awareness, it is SO good to get some space here …

Space to let go of suffering and thoughts, patterns and behaviours that don’t serve me … which in turn, frees up space for more positive thoughts, ideas and behaviours … letting creativity flow … and boy does it! … it flourishes baby!

Because yoga is not just a set of exercises or postures.  Yoga can be many things to many people.  To me, one of the many things yoga represents and offers to me, is it’s invitation and opening to connect to the divine.

AND ONE NEEDS TO SLOW DOWN IN ORDER TO SENSE THAT CONNECTION.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to slow down (this is so bizarre – Alicia Keys’ song ‘Slow Down’ just came over my iPod speakers randomly, as I write this!!).

SO I’M GOING TO.  (if that’s not a sign then I don’t know what is!!)

I don’t want this to be a long post – it takes too long to write, then I’ll be rushing to cover everything else that needs doing!, haha!  No, really – I just wanted to share this lil video, as it’s helped me get some perspective, firm up some decisions I needed to make, and I find it sort of funny how, sometimes we hear information that we ‘already know’, and yet unintelligently, somehow we are not consciously using it!  I guess it’s part of the human condition.

I KNOW all this already … but I still need to hear it every so often … even if my busy mind is blindly focussed on grasping for some new information, something it hasn’t heard before, because it thinks it needs more, when really all it needs is to pause, and listen to what’s already there, deep within, waiting to be revealed.  I need to hear it every so often because to slow down helps, it soothes, it affirmsand I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

 

Love Li, xo

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I LOVE YOGA. IT HELPS ME BRING OUT THE BEST IN ME. 

 

I came across this informative and positive article on 21 WAYS IN WHICH YOUR YOGA PRACTICE CAN IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH.

Yoga Journal  published this great article which shares scientific proof that yoga truly can help in areas of health and well-being, from weight loss and depression to heart disease and chronic pain, from better sex and improved sleep, to a sharper mind and a healthy spine (the importance of which I go on about a lot!).

Settle down for a bit now, with your favourite cuppa and enjoy this great news!

“Much has changed since physician Dean Ornish included yoga in his groundbreaking protocol for preventing, treating, and reversing heart disease more than three decades ago. Back then, the idea of integrating yoga with modern medicine was seen as far-out.
Today’s picture is very different: As yoga has become an increasingly integral part of 21st-century life, scientists, armed with new tools that allow them to look ever deeper into the body, have been turning their attention to what happens physiologically when we practice yoga—not just asana but also pranayama and meditation. These physicians, neuroscientists, psychologists, and other researchers are uncovering fascinating evidence of how the practice affects us mentally and physically and may help to prevent and assist in the treatment of a number of the most common ailments that jeopardize our vitality and shorten our lives.
Dozens of yoga studies are under way at medical institutions around the country, including Duke, Harvard, and the University of California at San Francisco. Some of the research is funded by theNational Institutes of Health. More studies are on the way, thanks in part to the work of researchers at the Institute for Extraordinary Living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, one of the first US research institutes to focus exclusively on yoga. And in India, scientist Shirley Telles heads up Patanjali Yogpeeth Research Foundation, which is spearheading studies large and small.
While studies of yoga’s impact on health are at an all-time high, experts say that much of the research is still in the early stages. But the quality is improving, says Sat Bir Khalsa, a Harvard neuroscientist who has studied yoga’s health effects for 12 years. It’s likely, he says, that the next decade will teach us even more about what yoga can do for our minds and bodies. In the meantime, the patterns beginning to emerge suggest that what we know about how yoga keeps us well may be just the tip of the iceberg.
1. Pain Reliever

Yoga shows promise as a treatment for relieving certain kinds of chronic pain. When German researchers compared Iyengar Yoga with a self-care exercise program among people with chronic neck pain, they found that yoga reduced pain scores by more than half. Examining yoga’s effects on a different kind of chronic pain, UCLA researchers studied young women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, an often debilitating autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the lining of the joints. About half of those who took part in a six-week Iyengar Yoga program reported improvements in measures of pain, as well as in anxiety and depression.

2. Yes, You Can!

Kim Innes, a Kundalini Yoga practitioner and a clinical associate professor at the University of Virginia, recently published a study on how yoga may benefit people who have a variety of health risk factors, including being overweight, sedentary, and at risk for type 2 diabetes. Forty-two people who had not practiced yoga within the previous year took part in an eight-week gentle Iyengar Yoga program; at the end of the program, more than 80 percent reported that they felt calmer and had better overall physical functioning. “Yoga is very accessible,” Innes says. “Participants in our trials, even those who thought they ‘could not do yoga,’ noted benefits even after the first session. My belief is that once people are exposed to gentle yoga practice with an experienced yoga therapist, they will likely become hooked very quickly.”

3. Ray of Light

Much attention has been given to yoga’s potential effect on the persistent dark fog of depression. Lisa Uebelacker, a psychologist at Brown University, got interested in examining yoga as a therapy for depression after studying and practicing mindfulness meditation. Because depressed people tend to be prone to rumination, Uebelacker suspected that seated meditation could be difficult for them to embrace. “I thought yoga might be an easier doorway, because of the movement,” she says. “It provides a different focus from worry about the future or regret about the past. It’s an opportunity to focus your attention somewhere else.” In a small study in 2007, UCLA researchers examined how yoga affected people who were clinically depressed and for whom antidepressants provided only partial relief. After eight weeks of practicing Iyengar Yoga three times a week, the patients reported significant decreases in both anxiety and depression. Uebelacker currently has a larger clinical trial under way that she hopes will provide a clearer picture of how yoga helps.

4. Happy Day

It’s taken the development of modern technologies like functional MRI screening to give scientists a glimpse of how yogic practices like asana and meditation affect the brain. “We now have a much deeper understanding of what happens in the brain during meditation,” says Khalsa. “Long-term practitioners see changes in brain structure that correlate with their being less reactive and less emotionally explosive. They don’t suffer to the same degree.” Scientists at the University of Wisconsin have shown that meditation increases the activity of the left prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain that’s associated with positive moods, equanimity, and emotional resilience. In other words, meditating regularly may help you weather life’s ups and downs with greater ease and feel happier in your daily life.

5. Stay Sharp

Asana, pranayama, and meditation all train you to fine-tune your attention, whether by syncing your breathing with movement, focusing on the subtleties of the breath, or letting go of distracting thoughts. Studies have shown that yogic practices such as these can help your brain work better. Recently, University of Illinois researchers found that immediately following a 20-minute hatha yoga session, study participants completed a set of mental challenges both faster and more accurately than they did after a brisk walk or a jog.

Researchers are in the earliest stages of examining whether yogic practices could also help stave off age-related cognitive decline. “The yogic practices that involve meditation would likely be the ones involved, because of the engagement of control of attention,” says Khalsa. Indeed, research has shown that parts of the cerebral cortex—an area of the brain associated with cognitive processing that becomes thinner with age—tend to be thicker in long-term meditators, suggesting that meditation could be a factor in preventing age-related thinning.

6. Maintenance Plan

A 2013 review of 17 clinical trials concluded that a regular yoga practice that includes pranayama and deep relaxation in Savasana (Corpse Pose), practiced for 60 minutes three times a week, is an effective tool for maintaining a healthy weight, particularly when home practice is part of the program.

7. Rest Easy

In our revved-up, always-on world, our bodies spend too much time in an overstimulated state, contributing to an epidemic of sleep problems. A recent Duke University analysis of the most rigorous studies done on yoga for psychiatric conditions found promising evidence that yoga can be helpful for treating sleep disorders. Asana can stretch and relax your muscles; breathing exercises can slow your heart rate to help prepare you for sleep; and regular meditation can keep you from getting tangled up in the worries that keep you from drifting off.

8. Better Sex

In India, women who took part in a 12-week yoga camp reported improvements in several areas of sexuality, including desire, orgasm, and overall satisfaction. Yoga (like other exercise) increases blood flow and circulation throughout the body, including the genitals. Some researchers think yoga may also boost libido by helping practitioners feel more in tune with their bodies.

9. Cool Inflammation

We’re used to thinking of inflammation as a response that kicks in after a bang on the shin. But increasing evidence shows that the body’s inflammatory response can also be triggered in more chronic ways by factors including stress and a sedentary lifestyle. And a chronic state of inflammation can raise your risk for disease.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that a group of regular yoga practitioners (who practiced once or twice a week for at least three years) had much lower blood levels of an inflammation-promoting immune cell called IL-6 than a group new to yoga. And when the two groups were exposed to stressful situations, the more seasoned practitioners showed smaller spikes of IL-6 in response. According to the study’s lead author, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, the more experienced practitioners went into the study with lower levels of inflammation than the novices, and they also showed lower inflammatory responses to stress, pointing to the conclusion that the benefits of a regular yoga practice compound over time.

10. Younger-Looking DNA

While the fountain of youth remains a myth, recent studies suggest that yoga and meditation may be associated with cellular changes that affect the body’s aging process. Each of our cells includes structures called telomeres, bits of DNA at the end of chromosomes that get shorter each time a cell divides. When telomeres get too short, the cells can no longer divide and they die. Yoga, it seems, may help to preserve their length. Men with prostate cancer who took part in a version of the Ornish healthy lifestyle program, which included an hour a day of yoga, six days a week, showed a 30 percent jump in the activity of a key telomere-preserving enzyme called telomerase. In another study, stressed care-givers who took part in a Kundalini Yoga meditation and chanting practice called Kirtan Kriya had a 39 per-cent increase in telomerase activity, compared with people who simply listened to relaxing music.

11. Immune Activity

Many studies have suggested that yoga can fortify the body’s ability to ward off illnesses. Now one of the first studies to look at how yoga affects genes indicates that a two-hour program of gentle asana, meditation, and breathing exercises alters the expression of dozens of immune-related genes in blood cells. It’s not clear how the genetic changes observed in this study might support the immune system. But the study provides striking evidence that yoga can affect gene expression—big news that suggests yoga may have the potential to influence how strongly the genes you’re born with affect your health.

12. Your Spine on Yoga

Taiwanese researchers scanned the vertebral disks of a group of yoga teachers and compared them with scans of healthy, similar-aged volunteers. The yoga teachers’ disks showed less evidence of the degeneration that typically occurs with age. One possible reason, researchers speculate, has to do with the way spinal disks are nourished. Nutrients migrate from blood vessels through the tough outer layer of the disk; bending and flexing may help push more nutrients through this outer layer and into the disks, keeping them healthier.

13. Keep Your Heart Healthy

Despite advances in both prevention and treatment, heart disease remains the no. 1 killer of both men and women in the United States. Its development is influenced by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and a sedentary lifestyle—all of which can potentially be reduced by yoga. Dozens of studies have helped convince cardiac experts that yoga and meditation may help reduce many of the major risk factors for heart disease; in fact, a review of no fewer than 70 studies concluded that yoga shows promise as a safe, effective way to boost heart health. In a study this year by researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center, subjects who participated in twice-weekly sessions of Iyengar Yoga (including pranayama as well as asana) significantly cut the frequency of episodes of atrial fibrillation, a serious heart-rhythm disorder that increases the risk of strokes and can lead to heart failure.

14. Joint Support

By gently taking joints—ankles, knees, hips, shoulders—through their range of motion, asana helps keep them lubricated, which researchers say may help keep you moving freely in athletic and everyday pursuits as you age.

15. Watch Your Back

Some 60 to 80 percent of us suffer from low-back pain, and there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment. But there’s good evidence that yoga can help resolve certain types of back troubles. In one of the strongest studies, researchers at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle worked with more than 200 people with persistent lower-back pain. Some were taught yoga poses; the others took a stretching class or were given a self-care book. At the end of the study, those who took yoga and stretching classes reported less pain and better functioning, benefits that lasted for several months. Another study of 90 people with chronic low-back pain found that those who practiced Iyengar Yoga showed significantly less disability and pain after six months.

16. Control Blood Pressure

One-fifth of those who have high blood pressure don’t know it. And many who do struggle with the side effects of long-term medication. Yoga and meditation, by slowing the heart rate and inducing the relaxation response, may help bring blood pressure down to safer levels. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently conducted one of the first randomized, controlled trials of yoga for blood pressure. They found that 12 weeks of Iyengar Yoga reduced blood pressure as well as or better than the control condition of nutrition and weight-loss education. (If you have high blood pressure, consult with your doctor and make sure it’s under control before you practice inversions.)

17. Down With Diabetes

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that adults at risk for type 2 diabetes who did yoga twice a week for three months showed a reduction in risk factors including weight and blood pressure. While the study was small, all who began the program stuck with it throughout the study, and 99 percent reported satisfaction with the practice. In particular, they reported that they liked the gentle approach and the support of the group. If larger, future studies show similar results, the researchers say, yoga could gain credence as a viable way of helping people stave off the disease.

18. News Flash

Many women have turned to yoga to help them cope with the symptoms of menopause, from hot flashes to sleep disturbances to mood swings. A recent analysis of the most rigorous studies of yoga and menopause found evidence that yoga—which included asana and meditation—helps with the psychological symptoms of menopause, such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. In one randomized controlled trial, Brazilian researchers examined how yoga affected insomnia symptoms in a group of 44 postmenopausal women. Compared with women who did passive stretching, the yoga practitioners showed a big drop in incidence of insomnia. Other, more preliminary research has suggested that yoga may also help to reduce hot flashes and memory problems, too.

19. Emotional Rescue

Recent studies have suggested that exercise is linked with increased levels of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is associated with positive mood and a sense of well-being. It turns out that Iyengar Yoga can also increase the levels of this chemical in the brain, more so than walking, according to a Boston University study. In another study, a group of women who were experiencing emotional distress took part in two 90-minute Iyengar Yoga classes a week for three months. By the end of the study, self-reported anxiety scores in the group had dropped, and measures of overall well-being went up.

20. Power Source

If you’ve felt the thrill of discovering you can hold Chaturanga for longer and longer periods, you’ve experienced how yoga strengthens your muscles. Standing poses, inversions, and other asanas challenge muscles to lift and move the weight of your body. Your muscles respond by growing new fibers, so that they become thicker and stronger—the better to help you lift heavy grocery bags, kids, or yourself into Handstand, and to maintain fitness and function throughout your lifetime.

21. Balancing Act

When you were a kid, your day included activities that tested your balance—walking along curbs, hopping on your skateboard. But when you spend more time driving and sitting at a desk than in activities that challenge your balance, you can lose touch with the body’s magical ability to teeter back and forth and remain upright. Balance poses are a core part of asana practice, and they’re even more important for older adults. Better balance can be crucial to preserving independence, and can even be lifesaving—falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in people over 65.

Bringing Yoga and Western Medicine Together: Duke Integrative Medicine

Duke University’s Integrative Medicine department in Durham, NC, has lived up to its name by integrating yoga into medicine and medicine into yoga. The department is one of the only major medical centers to offer yoga teacher training. Its two programs, “Thera-peutic Yoga for Seniors” and “Yoga of Awareness for Cancer,” are taught by a team of yoga instructors, doctors, physical therapists, and mental health professionals.

These yoga teacher trainings accept about 100 people a year and involve elements of asana, pranayama, meditation, and mindfulness working together as adjuncts to the conventional medical treatments that patients may also be receiving simultaneously. Once training is complete, teachers can work on contract for hospitals and other health agencies.

Kimberly Carson, the founder and codirector of the yoga training programs, stresses that what sets the programs apart is their research-based approach: Medicine listens best when you speak its language, says Carson, a yoga therapist who has taught in medical settings for more than 15 years. “The evidence base is what the medical community listens to.”

Essential to the program’s success, says Carson, is the staff’s commitment to thinking critically about how they promote the benefits of yoga. “The quickest way to shut doors is to state as fact claims that aren’t substantiated,” she says.

Luckily, the evidence base for yoga and other alternative methods is fast growing, and Duke has been a forerunner in opening the lines of communication between yoga and medicine.

Turning Doctors Into Mind-Body Experts: Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine

Located in one of the best academic medical centers and in one of the most doctor-friendly cities in the country, the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital is well poised to train new doctors to incorporate mind-body techniques into their practice. Its founder and director emeritus, Dr. Herbert Benson, pioneered research on the relaxation response as a powerful antidote to the stress response; he was also one of the first to illustrate that meditation changes metabolism, heart rate, and brain activity as a result of the relaxation response. This commitment to research is still what makes the institute stand out: Benson and his colleagues recently published a landmark study illustrating some of the changes in gene expression that can come from practices that elicit the relaxation response, including meditation and yoga.

Physicians at the institute help treat patients for everything from heart disease to diabetes to infertility. Individual therapeutic yoga instruction is offered as an adjunctive approach for a wide variety of conditions, both physical and mental. Darshan Mehta, the institute’s medical director and director of medical education, says that along with maintaining its commitments to research and patient care, the Benson-Henry Institute is dedicated to educating medical students and residents in integrative medicine. “Boston is famous for training leaders in medicine,” Mehta says. “We need to expose the next generation of doctors to the benefits of mind-body medicine. My hope is that after studying at the Benson-Henry Institute they’ll be able to at least recognize value in it and perhaps add it to their practices in some way.”

Caring Health Care: Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program

The brainchild of Donna Karan, Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman Yee, and Beth Israel’s chair of integrative medicine, Woodson Merrell, MD, the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program seeks to strengthen the human element in hospital-based health care and to lessen the pain and anxiety many patients experience when undergoing treatment for cancer and other illnesses. Launched in 2009, the program offers a 500-hour training for yoga teachers and health care professionals in five healing modalities: yoga therapy, Reiki, essential-oil therapy, nutrition, and contemplative care. Included in the training are 100 hours of clinical rotations, carried out at participating hospitals and long-term care facilities in New York; Los Angeles; Columbus, Ohio; and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“We’re bringing mindfulness into arenas where there is often only anxiety, panic, stress, and crisis states,” says Codirector Rodney Yee. “We all realize mindfulness and meditation are so important to daily life. This is a way to bring this to patients in a medical setting, to support patients’ needs.” For example, depending on the needs of the patient, a certified therapist might help patients do in-bed yoga poses, breathing techniques, and meditation that they can then repeat on their own.

Yee says he’s been amazed by the receptivity of the medical community toward the program. Old stigmas are dissolving, he says, and new attitudes are emerging. But it’s a two-way street, he adds. “The yoga community has our own work cut out for us, keeping up with the science and being open to addressing the issues that will affect yoga’s role in Western medicine for years to come.” “

Former Yoga Journal editor Katherine Griffin is a writer and editor in Northern California.

Almond Milk Recipe

If you regularly suffer from nasal congestion, sinusitis, ear infections, joint pain, asthma, seasonal allergies, hyperhidrosis, indigestion, diarrhoea, psoriasis, eczema, or any other autoimmune illness, you may experience significant improvement in your health just by avoiding dairy.

There are studies out there showing children with an allergy to milk in infancy, even when properly treated, had experienced significantly more middle ear infections, and atopic respiratory ailments like eczema, psoriasis etc.  They end up on antibiotics for months, so perhaps it’s worth trying a switch to this yummy almond milk or another dairy alternative and seeing if it helps?

Almonds are the only nuts that are known to alkalize the blood. 

Alkalising the blood is important for a few reasons, one of which is to help our physical bodies be more flexible.  If you tend to feel stiff and have joint pain, it could be reduced by minimizing your intake of acid-forming foods, such as milk/dairy, meat, grains and processed foods.  (Not to mention SUGAR!!)  Eating these foods acidifies the blood, and thickens the joint (synovial) fluid.  So following a more plant-based diet, and actually overall eating less food than is considered ‘normal’ in our western world, will alkalise the blood, jucify the synovial fluid and allow the body to move more fluidly, with less creaking and aching.

This has been MY experience.

You may notice it in your nasal passages, eyes, and throat too.

I notice if I eat some cheese in the evening, my morning pranayama practice is somewhat different as I usually become a little congested in my nose overnight.  It’s worth noticing if you’re interested in living a happier life with less suffering!

I try to “eat clean” mostly, but whenever I get dirty again, boy do I feel it in my joints, my muscles, my very bones!  There’s a heaviness to my body, an exhaustion, a brain fog and usually a bit of bad-temperedness too!  It’s quite eye-opening to notice these effects.

I don’t know what more proof I need. But while I eat consciously, I try not to be too intense or rigid in my approach to my diet.

The funny thing is, the less rigid I am with my food, the more rigid I am in my body!  The more flexible I am in my diet, the less flexible I am on the yoga mat!

So it’s possible to have an allergy to milk, still drink it and be … well … ok.  More so as an adult though.  We put up with pain and discomfort in a less obvious way than children.  No screaming, whinging, bad tempered phases, or at least we hide them better!  As milk makes up a large component of a child’s diet, if the little person in your life does have a milk allergy, that’s probably going to take quite a toll on the child’s well-being and temperament.  So it might be worth  trying to avoid it for a while and notice if there’s any improvement?

For me, almond milk is the healthier choice.

Almond milk contains a wide variety of the vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function, including vitamin E, magnesium and potassium.  

Unlike dairy milk, almond milk is cholesterol free … in fact, consuming almond products on a regular basis can actually lower your LDL-cholesterol. Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats, the same type of “good fats” that can be found in olive oil.

Almond milk also contains high levels of antioxidants, so if used in conjunction with other intelligent food choices, can help prevent many types of cancer and slow the signs of ageing.  Great too for those who can’t drink cow’s milk due to lactose intolerance, or a casein or gluten allergy; but remember that those with tree nut allergies should avoid almond milk because it could elicit a dangerous allergic reaction.

Almonds are also highest of all nuts in arginine, an amino acid that boosts the immune system and inhibits tumor growth.

Making Almond Milk

Creamy almond milk & meal

You can decide yourself if you’d like to flavour or sweeten your homemade almond milk, or just keep it straight ‘n’ simple … I usually add vanilla and some home-made date paste, but you don’t have to, and I sometimes use cinnamon and/or a nip of nutmeg as well or instead … you may even like to add some raw cacao to make a yummy chocolate milk or iced chocolate – whatever you feel like!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

1. A high speed blender.

I use a Vitamix, but as long as your blender is powerful enough to chop and blend the nuts to a pulp, it doesn’t matter about the brand.

2. A nut milk bag.  It’s worth the investment (of $8 $20 depending on where/how you buy it), because if the pulp is allowed to sit in the milk after straining, it turns rancid more quickly.  You’ve got to get all the pulp out.  Having said that, you can use a cheese cloth or try a super fine sieve, but it sounds a bit too tricky for me – I’m just quite partial to the convenience of the nut milk bag.  (I also quite like the draining/milking process with a bag, it’s sorta beautiful?!).  And I like the drawstring bags.  For me they just make the process easier to manage.

3. A little bit of forward thinking.  It’s good to plan your almond milking time – as it’s important to soak the nuts first.

Easiest is to SOAK YOUR ALMONDS OVERNIGHT or for at least 8 hours.  You can soak them longer if you need to, I drain the water and refill with fresh filtered water if I run short on time and need them to sit longer.

WHY SOAK?

After a couple hours, much of the dust, residue and tannins from the skins are released into the water and the nut emerges with a smoother, more palatable flavour.  Soaking results in increased enzyme activity, greater absorption of the food’s nutrients by the body and increased digestibility.  When soaked, nuts and seeds actually begin the sprouting process which bumps up their nutrient profile considerably.  I add a pinch of celtic sea salt to the soak, to help break down the phytates (the acids present in nuts, grains & legumes that prevent the body from absorbing the nutrient content of the food).

Milking Almond Milk

Milking The Almond Cow!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of almonds (preferable insecticide free/organic, but whatever you can get!)

4 cups of filtered water, or 3 cups for a richer, creamier milk

Optional to add and I do:

1/2 teaspoon powdered vanilla bean

1-3 pitted dates/ a glob of date paste or  a few drops of liquid stevia – to your sweetness.

2 or 3 pinches of celtic sea salt (some for soaking, some for the milk)

Perhaps a teaspoon of soy lecithin to help emulsify the fat and liquid

Perhaps a half cup of coconut oil to add a good mct fat

Perhaps a teaspoon of lemon juice to help preserve the life of the milk

Pouring Almond Milk

I’m pretty good at making a mess … using a funnel helps!

Method:

Soak the nuts with some c.s. salt, cover and leave overnight/for at least 8 hours.

Drain & rinse the nuts well.

Add them to your blender along with the other ingredients, blending from low up to a high speed, until they’re broken right down, the liquid will turn milky and perhaps a lil frothy.  Don’t let it get hot!

Place your nut milk bag over a large pouring vessel/measuring jug.

Pour the milk through the nut milk bag.  You can leave it to seep through slowly then squeeze out the last of the milk.  But I usually milk the bag, leaving behind a fairly dry pulp, with which to make other goodies.

Pour you creamy milk into a clean, sterilised glass jar or bottle and store in the fridge.

Stores well for 3 -4 days.  I always give mine a sniff after about day three if there’s any left.  If it’s turned you’ll know by the sour scent!

You might, like me, consider making it part of your routine, get your soaking rotation on!

IMG_0868

Two Pints of Creamy Milk Ready for the Fridge!

Tips:

Don’t chuck the pulp!  

It’s rather fibreful (yes I like making up my own words  – you may have noticed!) and can be used to make all sorts of goodies!!  It will store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days, adding it to recipes and smoothies.  Or you could dry it our at a low temperature in the oven/dehydrator to use as flour storing it in an air tight container.  Or alternatively you can freeze it in a sealed container to use when it’s convenient for you and to avoid wastage.

      Love Love Love it!!

Love Lila xo