Category: Health & Healing

What Is Ahimsa? Yoga Meets Plant-Based Living (+ recip...

 

The time is always right to do what is right.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

What is Ahimsa?

Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga consist of two main components: yamas (things we must abstain from in order to lead a spiritual and ethical yogic life) and niyamas (spiritual observances). The very first of the yamas is ahimsa, or non-harm. This principle lies at the very heart of yoga and should be applied to everything—how we treat ourselves, how we treat others, and how we treat the world around us.

Of course, it’s logistically impossible to make it through life without causing any harm whatsoever. We live in a world in which we cannot escape creating some kind of pain. This world has been set up as being “perfectly imperfect.” If we walk across a park, we will step on ants. If we wipe sweat off our forehead, we will kill millions of bacteria. So how do we create the least amount of harm while we are here on this earth? If we cannot escape killing and harming completely, then how do we minimize our footprint?

 

Practicing Ahimsa through food

With this in mind, we do the best we can. The truth of the matter is that, even without consciously abiding by the Eight Limbs of Yoga, most of us innately attempt to live our lives in a way that doesn’t inflict harm on others. However, one way in which even the most gentle and aware among us do cause harm is by eating in an unconscious manner. We don’t stop to consider where our food is coming from or how it is making its way to our plate. For most of us, eating offers a prime avenue for becoming more aware of the earth and living beings around us and of alleviating some of the harm we are causing, often without even really being conscious of it!

One of the arguments we often hear about practicing ahimsa by eating a plant-based diet is, “Well, plants are living things, too, and you’re harming them!” This is true. Every living being on this planet—whether it be a human or an animal or a tree—has what yogis call a jiva-atma, or a soul, residing within it. 

 

Carrot vs. Cow

The idea of ahimsa is to cause the least amount of harm as possible. We like to explain it this way: let’s think about the difference between eating a carrot and a cow, bearing in mind that, in each case, we are causing harm. When we eat a carrot, we harm the carrot. But to make a cow eligible for slaughter, she must weigh at least a thousand pounds. In order for cows to gain weight, they need to eat and metabolize food, just like humans do. Specifically, for a cow to gain one pound, she has to eat between 16 and 20 pounds of grain. Let’s stop and think about this for a moment. This means that before we can even think about eating a cow, an enormous number of plants have to be killed in order to feed her. Imagine how many people you could feed with that amount of grain, compared to the one pound of beef protein that it produces.

 

The harm doesn’t stop there. It takes 2,500 gallons of water for a cow to produce one pound of beef. In other words, it takes 2.5 million gallons of water to get a single cow to one thousand pounds. And beyond that, animal agriculture is also one of the leading causes of air and water pollution and deforestation. The amount of harm caused by these two environmental hazards is unquantifiable.

 

Eat less meat, feed more people

Now think about the fact that one-seventh of the world’s population today is starving. One of the primary reasons is that most of the world’s grains and produce are used to feed animals for slaughter. These animals add up to a much smaller amount of food than grains and produce—it is food designated only for the people who can afford it. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “If everyone wanted to eat a meat-based diet, we would need two planet earths”?

But if everyone ate a plant-based diet, we could feed two planet earths. Aside from just harming the animals who go to slaughter, to produce them we are using up food and water resources that leave other humans wanting, and we are polluting the earth. That’s a lot of harm for a single meal. And we’re willing to bet that most of the people who pay into that vicious cycle have no desire to create any harm. 

 

Ahimsa & the vegan diet

When we eat a vegan diet, we can avoid all of this harm—and without sacrificing any of the taste. We can feel good about our choices for ourselves and for the world around us. We are literally playing a role in decreasing the suffering of an entire planet, including the human beings, animals, plants, and the very earth we walk upon. Think of what an impact you can have by making different, mindful decisions about what you fuel your body with at least three times a day, every day of your life!

Eating this way has other advantages. When we eat vibrant whole foods in place of meat and dairy, our bodies start humming along in a more natural rhythm, making us feel both physically better and more spiritually connected. Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet nourishes our body in a unique and noticeable way because the food is of a higher quality and nutrient content than processed foods. The plethora of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients fuel our physical constitution at the highest level. In the same way as a car will run more smoothly for a longer period of time when it is provided with high-grade fuel, so too will our bodies. And just as our bodies are better nourished with the vitamins and minerals plants provide, so too are our brains, which makes us quicker and more alert. Spiritually, we become more attuned to the life and resources around us, and we experience a greater sense of gratitude and interconnection.

Victoria is a prime example of this. As daunting as the idea of giving up meat and meat-based products initially was to her, today there’s no looking back. Not only does she feel stronger and more physically energized, but her entire life has shifted. She feels more aligned with and attuned to the world around her. She no longer searches for happiness in material things but, rather, turns to spiritual matters and meditation for fulfillment.

Recipe: Vegan Key Lime Cheesecake

MAKES ONE 9-INCH PIE

Key lime pie is one of the most popular dishes in America. It is sweet, tart, and rich. That flavor combination translates perfectly to cheesecakes. We have created a Key Lime Cheesecake that is so decadent and fulfilling, it’ll win over any pie or cheesecake lover in a heartbeat. Plus it is packed with superfoods and other healthy ingredients. The avocado is the star in this recipe. It gives the cheesecake a beautiful green color and adds a creaminess that is amazing in flavor and depth. This delicious dessert will satisfy your body as well a your sweet tooth. 

 

FOR THE CRUST:

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • ½ cup pitted dates

(preferably Medjool)

  • ⅛ tsp. Himalayan pink salt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Place the pecans and walnuts in a food processor and blend until the nut pieces are small and granular, about the size of rice grains.
  2. Add the coconut oil, dates, salt, and vanilla extract to the food processor. Blitz until the mixture forms a crust-like consistency.
  3. Spoon the crust into a 9-inch cheesecake pan. Press the mixture into the base of the pan evenly with your fingers. Set the pan in the freezer while you work on the filling.

 

FOR THE FILLING:

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • ½ cup chilled coconut milk
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup avocado chunks
  • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
  1. Place all of the ingredients except the avocado into a high-powered blender and blitz on high for 45 seconds, or until creamy and smooth.

 

  1. Separate ¼ cup of the filling mixture and set aside. Add the avocado chunks to the rest of the mixture in the blender and blitz again for 45 seconds, or until creamy and smooth.

 

  1. Pour the avocado mixture into the cheesecake pan and spread evenly. Tap the pan lightly on a cutting board to get out any air bubbles.

 

  1. Drizzle the reserved ¼ cup white mixture all over the top of the green cheesecake, as if you are trying to draw lines with it. With a toothpick tip, carefully swirl the lines to create the classic cheesecake look.

 

  1. Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours to set. About 15 minutes before serving, remove from the freezer. To get perfectly clean slices, run your knife under hot water before cutting each piece.

 

  1. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for about 3 weeks.

This is an excerpt and recipe from The Yoga Plate: Bring Your Practice into the Kitchen with 108 Simple & Nourishing Vegan Recipes by Tamal Dodge and Victoria Dodge.

 

Tamal Dodge is a renowned yoga teacher, trainer, and cofounder of LA’s premiere yoga studio, Yoga Salt, with its newest location in North Carolina. He’s been featured in the New York Times, the LA Times, Time magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Self, Better Homes & Gardens, Yogi Times, mindbodygreen, and more. He teaches yoga around the world and stars in several bestselling yoga DVDs that are sold worldwide. yogasalt.com

Victoria Dodge is a cofounder of Yoga Salt, professional photographer, and cooking expert who has worked with companies such as Lululemon, Forbes, and Apple, as well as celebrity clients, models, and Hollywood figures like Shaquille O’Neal, James Cameron, and Sterling K. Brown. The Dodges live in North Carolina with their two children. Learn more at theyogaplate.com.

 

 

Buy your copy of The Yoga Plate at your favorite bookseller!

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In 2020, Find Your Life’s Purpose (the japanese ...

Why do you get up every morning? What motivates you to get out of bed every day? In Japan there is a term to describe our reason for living or being: ikigai

 

We all have an ikigai, even if we don’t know it. 

 

In fact, the search for an ikigai is what will bring large doses of satisfaction and self-fulfillment because when you connect with your ikigai, your life will acquire a meaning. Often we live a life that is full of appearances, possessions that appear to speak for who we are, jobs that provide much prestige but that we don’t enjoy, inherited stereotypes, scraps of other lives, and only superficial meaning. But that life full of appearances has a tendency to crumble and fall apart, and, when it does, it’s usually in the form of a crisis. For some people, the crisis that tends to happen in adult life is an opportunity to ask ourselves what our ikigai is and what the meaning of our life is. However, when you are suffering, it’s not the best time to find a meaning for your life, because from a place of lacking, everything is harder. 

 

Look for Your Ikigai

 

We have already established that at the very least you already have one ikigai, a reason to pick up your pieces. But I encourage you to think about what other ikigais you can find. Analyze the meaning of your life up until now and evaluate whether you need to redefine it. 

 

Sometimes, because we have good intentions, we mistakenly believe that our lives consist only of our children, partners, work, parents, or a long list of other things, but in reality, you must never allow all your life’s responsibilities to revolve around a single meaning or a single motivation.

 

I have many ikigais that I carry with me every day! I get up for myself and for everything I enjoy doing. I get up for my wife and for my daughter, for my clients; to go for a stroll, to go for a bike ride, or to get lost skiing in the mountains; to use my talent to remove psychology from the confines of the lecture theater, to learn and teach, travel, smile, and enjoy a kiss and a hug. Each morning I get up for the bear hug I will give my daughter, to feel the sun on my skin, to get drenched in the rain, and to curl up with a good book. I could fill pages and pages with my ikigais, though that wouldn’t make as interesting a book, now would it? 

 

An Exercise in Ikigai

To begin this exercise, ask yourself about the meaning behind what you are doing, where you are living, your work, your partner, your lifestyle, and your vacations. I encourage you to go over each and every one of the aspects of your life and to ask yourself whether they contribute to your happiness.

 

Start questioning the meaning of what you are about to do in each moment of your day. Even the mundane things! It may sound silly, but there is ikigai there!

 

What meaning is there in… Drinking a cup of coffee? Attending a specific conference? Helping a neighbor? In getting angry? In walking your dog? In writing a book? 

 

Moving forward, continue to ask yourself about the meaning of what you are about to do in any moment, and there you will start to discover your own ikigais.

 

Learn more about the powerful practice of healing trauma and finding purpose in Kintsugi: The Japanese Art of Embracing the Imperfect and Loving Your Flaws by Tomás Navarro.

 

Tomás Navarro is a psychologist who loves people and what they feel, think, and do. He is the founder of a consultancy practice and center for emotional well-being. He currently splits his time between technical writing, training, consultancy, conferences and advisory processes, and personal and professional coaching. He lives in Gerona and Barcelona, Spain.

 

 

 

 

Read Kintsugi today!

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3 Ways to be in Financial Integrity this Holiday Seaso...

3 Ways to be in Financial Integrity this Holiday SeasonIn the whirlwind of holiday parties, gift-giving, and cooking, you can lose your grip on financial integrity faster than slipping on ice. But, your integrity is essential to your happiness and your self-worth. Here are a few easy ways to regain your center and empower your choices to give from your heart instead of your wallet.

Treasure Connectivity

When your presence is truly a gift to others, you won’t find yourself needing to overspend. Practice loving presence with the little interactions you have through the day. Slow down. Listen more. Smile more. Appreciate the uniqueness of the person in front of you. When you treasure connectivity, you won’t find yourself spending money on things that aren’t in alignment with your values.

Affirm Your Unique Values & Convictions

Speaking of aligning to your values … what are YOUR values? What do you value about the holidays? About gifting? About receiving? About money? Take a minute and write down your values and your convictions about the holidays. Read your convictions before bed, and upon arising. You’ll be more likely to live up to your convictions with money. And when you don’t, you’ll be very clear exactly what value you violated. When that happens, stop. Notice. Course correct.

Gift from Your Values

Whether you’re baking cookies or filling stockings, make each an act in alignment with your convictions. At first you may be aware of how your extended family or friends have different trends, values, or convictions. That’s ok. Notice. And be YOU. Be in your integrity. Make your people paleo gingersnaps or whatever you find nourishing and delightful. Tell your people why you gift how you gift. They love you for being you. And you being you will help them find their own financial integrity.

Cate StillmanCate Stillman has been teaching audiences how to create health and wellness through yoga and Ayurveda since 2001. She is the author of Body Thrive, and hosts the Yogahealer Real Thrive Show, a weekly podcast featuring dozens of experts in the field. She splits her time between the Idaho border country and Mexico.

4 Ways to Practice Gratitude This Holiday Season

4 Ways to Practice Gratitude This Holiday Season

The holiday season can be hectic and overwhelming, with many mixed emotions, from excitement to stress. It’s the perfect time to commit to a daily practice of gratitude which will help you experience more moments of contentment and joy and give you resilience to handle the many challenges (including travel and stressful relatives). And when you share your gratitude with others, you help them feel seen, valued, elevated, and help yourself feel more closely connected to people in your life. Here are four ways to practice gratitude this holiday season. 

Say Thank You and Mean It

When you thank someone, be intentional about it and put your heart and appreciation into your words. Take a moment, pause, look them in the eye, smile, and say ‘Thank you’. If there is something specific you want to thank them for, do it, go the extra step, that’s awesome.

Daily Gratitude Bookends

Begin and end your day by writing down a few things you’re grateful for. Literally bookend your day with gratitude. If you’re not a journaling type, that’s fine—how about sharing what you’re grateful for with someone else, like a family member, friend, or co-worker—in-person or via text or email. You won’t just be practicing gratitude for yourself but inspiring them to do it also. Remember to be as specific as possible and don’t neglect really small moments.

Gratitude Zoom

If you’re feeling down or caught in a negativity spiral, pause and challenge yourself to find something you can appreciate within your experience, however small. For example, if you’re sad about being sick and missing out on what you would rather be doing, can you feel grateful that you have medicine or a comfortable place to recover or people around to help care for you?

Gratitude Antidote

When something stresses you out—too much traffic, an annoying colleague, etc.—use it as a reminder to practice gratitude. You don’t have to be grateful for whatever is stressing you out, but use it as a nudge to pause, take a breath, and think of something, however small, that you are grateful for in that moment. When you do this, you prevent your brain from going into a negativity spiral, where one annoying thought brings on another, and another, and another, until you have a really rough day.

 

Nataly KoganNataly Kogan is an author (Happier Now), speaker, and the founder of Happier. Her work has been featured in hundreds of media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TEDx Boston, SXSW, and Dr Oz. Nataly lives with her husband and daughter in Boston. For more, visit happier.com.

 

3 Ways to Set Clear Boundaries to Enjoy This Holiday S...

3 Ways to Set Clear Boundaries to Enjoy This Holiday Season

One of the things that get us so stressed out during the holiday season is the Must Do list, the unending expectations, the anxiety that comes when we feel we’ve let people down. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The holidays can literally be Holy Days, when you feel the love and light of family, friends, community and the shared gratitude of celebration.

Here are a few ways that Energy Medicine Yoga can help you this season.

Knowing the right way to say “No”

You know you want to say No, but you don’t know how. Before you say Yes, and add one more thing to an already full plate, take a moment in silence. Tune in and see what you really want to do. Then take one hand and draw big figure 8’s all along your throat. This is the home of the 5th chakra, where you speak your truth. The figure 8’s will help you find more clarity and ease with what can be a difficult answer.

Keep your own energies intact with the Zip Up

When you’re around a lot of people, you can take on the energies of everyone around you and start to feel like you’re losing your own self. Bring your hands in front of your pubic bone, set an intention to stay calm and true to yourself, and sweep your hands up your body and over your head. Do this two more times.

Calm down your stress response with this ‘hug’

Holidays can be stressful, and your body will respond to that. You can balance the stress response with the ‘inner mom’ by doing the Spleen hug. Hug one hand around your waist, hug the other hand around the opposite elbow. You can stand like this around the punch bowl, and feel calm and grounded so you can enjoy the holiday chaos!

 

Lauren WalkerLauren Walker is the author of The Energy Medicine Yoga Prescription (Sounds True, Sept 2017) and Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice (Sounds True, 2014). She’s been teaching yoga and meditation since 1997 and created Energy Medicine Yoga while teaching at Norwich University. She teaches EMYoga across the US and internationally and has been featured in Yoga Journal, Mantra Yoga + Healing, Yoga Digest, and The New York Times. She was recently named one of the top 100 most influential yoga teachers in America by Sonima. For more information, visit EMYoga.net.

The community here at Sounds True wishes you a lovely holiday season! We are happy to collaborate with some of our Sounds True authors to offer you wisdom and practices as we move into this time together; please enjoy this blog series for your holiday season. 

To help encourage you and your loved ones to explore new possibilities this holiday season, we’re offering 40% off nearly all of our programs, books, and courses sitewide. May you find the wisdom to light your way. Use promo code HOLIDAY10 and receive an additional 10% off your order.

EXPLORE NOW

 

3 Ways to Overcome Overwhelm This Holiday Season

3 Ways to Overcome Overwhelm This Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a joyous and fun time for many, and a sad or lonely time for others. But regardless of how this season sits, it is almost always a time of increased stress and overwhelm.

With these simple steps, you can cut down your own stress and find peace of mind.

Get crystal clear on what is MOST important to you

With clarity about your values, you will be able to decide what you are going to say ‘yes’ to and what you are going to say ‘no’ to with greater ease and grace. If you want to feel peaceful? Say no to the four parties on one day. If you want to feel energetic? Put your phone down and go to bed on time. If you want to keep your immune system healthy? Go easy on the sugar and alcohol and make healthy food choices.

Volunteer!

Studies show that volunteering is good for your own stress level—as long as your motivation is for the benefit of others and not yourself. Find an organization you think is doing great work and carve out some time to help.

Set clear boundaries

With the onslaught of parties and events, visitors and responsibilities, it’s easy to get into more than we can reasonably handle. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’ My favorite tip for this is to tell people, when they ask me for something, is to say that “I’m not 100% sure if that can work for me; I’ll send you an email by tomorrow end of day to let you know.” That gives you a chance to actually consider whether it is something you really want to do, and also makes it a little easier to let people down gently.

 

 Dr. Samantha Brody, author of Overcoming Overwhelm, is a naturopathic physician and acupuncturist and founder of Evergreen Natural Health Center in Portland, Oregon. Licensed as a primary care provider with extensive training and experience in both complementary and Western medicine, she has worked with over 30,000 patients and clients in the past twenty years. Her mission is to empower people to address the stress in their lives and help them to make changes that are in alignment with their personal health goals and values. She holds a doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine and a master’s degree in oriental medicine from the National University of Natural Medicine. She is a sought-after international speaker who educates lay and professional audiences on the issues of stress and health. Dr. Samantha writes for a variety of publications and has been quoted extensively in books and media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, HuffPostand Shape. Learn more at drsamantha.com.

The community here at Sounds True wishes you a lovely holiday season! We are happy to collaborate with some of our Sounds True authors to offer you wisdom and practices as we move into this time together; please enjoy this blog series for your holiday season. 

To help encourage you and your loved ones to explore new possibilities this holiday season, we’re offering 40% off nearly all of our programs, books, and courses sitewide. May you find the wisdom to light your way. Use promo code HOLIDAY10 and receive an additional 10% off your order.

EXPLORE NOW

 

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