Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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Put. The. Cold. Water. Down.

January 2, 2013: Lesson 1

Put. It. Down.

I’m starting the year with this topic because I think it is one of the smallest changes we can make with the biggest impact. Its not super yogic, I’m positive Patanjali didn’t include it in his sutras but this is a very important lesson I have learned from many teachers. As I am home, with my family and friends, and I see so much ice water flying around… I thought maybe this would be appropriate.

Action Step: Drink warm water, never cold water and don’t drink at meal time.

I made a salad lunch with my friend Rich in Beijing before we both left for our world tours, I asked him what he wanted to drink and he said he didn’t drink with meals and I was like “Whatttt!?…” and he said, “Its not good for your digestion…” I had a hard time wrapping my head around this until I heard the water lesson from many more teachers along the way.

October, 2012 Varkala Beach, India: Mahesh gave me a glaring look as I held up my frozen water bottle, dripping with condensation as it melted from the heat of the day. I knew what he was thinking, “Bad girl! You should know better then to drink cold water and send it into your system killing your digestive fire!” And I did know better, but it was just so hot and the cold water tasted so goooood. And what? I give up drinking and smoking and eating meat and now I have to give up cold water? You have got to be kidding me! Since when was being a yogi so strict!? The truth is, I do have an incredibly sensitive digestive system. I should be doing everything in my power to make sure it can run at is peak performance. We should ALL take care of our systems as much as possible… Why? Because according to Ayurvedic medicine, all diseases are caused from faulty fire in the digestive track. This is why it is so important to love yourself enough to take whatever steps are necessary to maintain healthy digestion.

Alas, I stopped bringing the cold water to class, and made a point about it… Mahesh was proud.  Drinking cold water is not good for you. Room temperature coconuts are ok… but cold water… no.

Master Mahesh and his coconut.

Master Mahesh and his coconut. This is the look…

WHY!?

Isn’t there anything better then the feel of cool water as it hits the dryness of a sticky pallet? What if you are really thirsty! ? Still… no. It kills your AGNI or your digestive fire. Deep within all of us, in our digestive system lies an energy called Agni. It is our fire, our heat. This is the energy that we use to digest food and to extract all of the nutrients from whatever we are eating. Our internal organs are warm for a reason; it acts as an insulator for our body’s energies. To take a glass of ice water (God forbid) and send it shooting down into our system is like throwing a blanket over a flame, it puts out our fire and it takes a long time to get started again. Cold beverages should be avoided in general, anything out of the fridge is a bad idea, UNLESS you have a pita imbalance (very fast digestion and excess heat in the body) in that case an occasional cold beverage would be all right…between meals!

Agni fire...

Not only should we not be drinking cold water, but really we should avoid it at meal time all together. WHY!?

Natwar, our guru at Rishikesh Yog Peeth explained our digestive system and drinking beverages at mealtime like this….Imagine your stomach is a blender. Which it essentially is, a vat of space where all of the food is processed and churned. By adding a ton of water into the blender, it can’t process the food with out it spilling out of the top. The extraction of nutrients from the food becomes very difficult. This simply slows the process down, and slow digestion isn’t fun for anyone.

Our stomach is a blender...

COMMON MISCONCEPTION: When I was talking to my mom about this she said,”But I thought you were supposed to drink a lot of water before your meals so you can lose weight!”. Yes, yes. I know. I have heard this before also. My response would be, sure! If you are trying to lose weight and fill up room in your stomach with water, completely killing your digestive fire and making the digestive process suffer, go for it… but it won’t work and it is not a good idea (the whole blender concept). What I have heard about drinking with meals is this: because a little bit of warm water CAN help with digestion, the choices are as follows.

First note that this is as much as we should be eating…as much food as we can fit into our cupped hands. Like this:

This is how much we should be eating at a meal...

This is how much we should be eating at a meal…

We need to leave SPACE in our stomachs for the digestive fire to work with what we eat. I have heard 2 different methods here. We should have 1/2 the stomach filled with food and 1/2 the stomach empty, AND I have also heard 1/3 water, 1/3 food, and 1/3 empty. Regardless of what you try to follow the bottom line is this, if we are going to drink at meal time, it shouldn’t be very much. And regardless of what we do we shouldn’t eat until we have the sensation of being full. Space is an important ingredient for proper digestion to take place.

I know it sounds drastic to many of us who have been raised on ice water and drinking beverages at meal time.

But what do we have to lose to TRY it and see how we feel?

I have been practicing this in my own life pretty diligently and honestly, I have seen a huge change in my digestive system. It is definitely a combination of different factors but I think there may be some truth to what these teachers have to say. Who knew? The simple of act of loading up on my liquids BETWEEN meals and not drinking cold beverages (the summer breakfast smoothies may have to be my only exception but we still have a while to go) is enough to start a small change. This is all about beginning the process of awareness. Happy New Year! and remember… Put. The. Cold. Water. Down.

Instead enjoy a dainty cup of hot water.

lizzies-tea-party-logo

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2013! A SEXIER, happier, new and improved you! An introduction…

…maybe sexier I just put that to get your attention. 😉

January 1, 2013:  LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN! (or keep going)

Home is where my feet are.... on my mat.

Home is where my feet are…. on my mat. In Li Jiang, China.

For the last 18 months I have not worked, (except for teaching yoga in Puerto Vallarta for 3 months in the beginning of the year…) I have travelled the world and studied yoga.

An abbreviated journey itinerary found here: China (Beijing, and then our pedal bike/train journey  ALL over the gigantic country, too many places to list… ,Sydney Australia, Bali Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, US (Colorado, Wisconsin, California), Mexico (Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta), England (London for the Olympics and Hayling Island Ross’s home), Paris France, Italy (Rome, Tuscany, Campotosto), Germany (Dusseldorf, Dortmund), back to China, India (Varkala Kerala, Agra, Rishikesh) and back home to Colorado for Christmas 2012…PHEW! I’m so happy to be home! (for the time being).

Mexico City.

Mexico City.

Now I’d like to start using what I have learned here on my new and improved yoga blog! Welcome!  My objective for the next year is to help myself (yes myself) as well as you with our daily practice by reviewing/reiterating/elaborating on some lessons I have learned during my own yoga journey. I’d really like to share my process with you, perhaps helping you on your own journey to a NEW and IMPROVED (maybe sexier) YOU! I hope to discover things we can DO (or try not to do)  each day to make a difference in our own lives or the lives of others around us, using yogic principles as the backdrop.

Love.

Make a difference! Love. In Bali…

In the modern world, where everything is BOLD, noisy, flashy, FAST, and commoditized, people naturally have a hard time finding silence, or the ability to hear their internal guide.  The typical 60 minuets of asana (yoga postures) is a great tool to get the mind to shut up for a while. After all,

Citta Vritti Nirodha: yoga is cessation of the mind.

It is a beautiful thing. However, there is so much more than asana! My understanding is that most yogis (not all) are caught up in their physical practice of yoga, often neglecting the other 7 branches of Patanjali’s yoga sutras as well as many of the other points of wisdom from the east. We are too busy! We don’t have time for more… We all want the quick fix to remedy the madness that is our mind. As yogis, we know there is more to yoga then the hour or so we spend on the mat a few times a week, but perhaps we don’t have the time, energy, or willingness to add the extra zest to our practice. We instead decide to stick with what we know, the physical. The “exercise”. Sure we may enjoy the occasional Om, or depending on where we practice, there may be some mantra chanting, some pranayama, or a small meditation. We might use reusable cloth bags and drive eco-friendly Subaru’s… but what is all this really about? Is it ENOUGH? Are we all as modern yogis developing as deeply as our potential and possibility allow? My opinion is a harrowing “NO”. We are heading in the right direction though!

We all like the asana!

Asana on Varkala beach. India.

So, what exactly are the options?  How do we self assert ourselves into a deeper understanding of yoga? Who has the time to study the sutras and extract what is applicable in the modern-day life of a yogi? I know who has the time. I do! I propose that for the next year I post (as often as possible) small things that we can DO everyday to hopefully push us gently further into the right direction… I’ll ask the help of my fellow yoga students to help me. (Please?)

Why? So I can DO something with what I have learned. So it doesn’t stagnate inside me as Ross and I head into ANOTHER year of traveling, and of the unknown…

Warrior in the Coliseum.

Warrior in the Coliseum.

All over China we went...

All over China we went…

IMG_7608

I have played and studied yoga. I have read and practiced more diligently then any other time in my life… and through my missteps and successes I have begun to accumulate quiet a repertoire of experience. Its January 1st. It’s time for us all to excel. It is time to push the envelope a little more. I’d like to make the journey to go deeper EASY for you (and for myself). Change doesn’t happen in one day, it happens with many days linked together…

Patanjali's yoga sutras lecture in Rishikesh...

Patanjali’s yoga sutras lecture in Rishikesh…

My desire is to create a space to highlight (and review) things I’ve learned. I will move from Patanjalis eight limbs and look at how to USE them in our daily life. I’d like to include the gems or pearls I have heard from my many yoga teachers around the world.  I would like to include some Ayurvedic and Chinese principles around life style and diet choices. I will also include some thoughts and recommendations from some of my favorite and most used texts and other peoples blogs I really like. I’d like to ask you to please help me! Add to what is posted and elaborate! Disagree! Whatever you like…

I’m excited to review and share some of what has been so generously given to me.  Because I whole-heartedly believe that progressing into the practice isn’t only about asana. It can’t be found in downward dog, the wheel or head stand. These are as small a part of yoga as a drop of water is the ocean.

Santosha: Bali Class of September 2012

Santosha: Bali Class of September 2011

300 hr YTT  Rishikesh Yog Peeth December 2012

300 hr YTT Rishikesh Yog Peeth December 2012

Speaking of drops of water… the first official post in this series will come next… its about… water….

FIRST LESSON: DRINK WARM WATER! (says every yoga teacher I have ever had, EVER) Not COLD WATER! You know who you are… (pretty much EVERY ONE IN MY FAMILY!) 😉

Why!? More on this lesson to come soon!