In the mood for tea with a bit of a chill outside? Try a tea for your dosha.

In Ayurveda, it is not recommended to drink cold drinks because it can kill your digestive fire (agni). Now, that the chill is in the air and wind has picked up, what a great time to try one of the Ayurvedic tea preparations below to support our entrance into the Vata time of year! 

Tea 1 - to balance dryness or the feeling of being unsettled
1 cup water
1 big, brown cardamom pod, crushed
A few whole cloves
1 stick of licorice root
Optional ingredient: honey

Tea 2 - to balance roughness or hoarseness of throat
1 cup water
1 big, brown cardamom, crushed
1 stick of licorice root
1/3 tsp. marshmallow root
Optional ingredient: honey

Tea 3 - to balance cold
1 cup water
1 big, brown cardamom, crushed
1 stick of licorice root
1/3 tsp. peppermint leaf
Optional ingredient: honey

Tea 4 - for congestion, mucus, infection or flu-like symptoms
1 cup water
1 stick of licorice root
1 stick of cinnamon
1/3 tsp. holy basil leaf

Directions

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boiling point. Pour over into a glass tea pot with the spices for the tea of your choice, and let steep for 5 minutes. I use a tea ball or a gold filter that sits down in my tea pot. Surround your tea pot with a hand towel to retain the heat. 
  2. Strain or remove the herbs.
  3. Cool until just warm and then add a little honey. 

Note: Tea recipes 1, 2, or 3 may be cooked with milk if mucus within the body is not present.

 

A letter from Stephanie, graduate of the 200 hour IIYS/ReneeYoga teacher training

Hi Renee,

I trust life is well is with you. I still think of the teachings you offered in your immersion training with gratefulness remembering the time in Tulum. Much has happened since then - my 7 year relationship ended, I started healing painful memories through hypnotherapy, and I
traveled/studied in Europe on my own. You were right. I learned there are people in the world, and they are not a threat to me.

Finally, yoga is no longer a fight with myself. I used to feel rejected by yoga because pain and injury permeated my sequences. Now I flow as my mat is filled with experience over evaluation by listening to my body rather comparing to external measures. This extends from my mat to my life, and I am endowed with a deep understanding that I'm not all better now because again, you were right. There was never anything wrong with me. With this, I send my gratitude for being a part of me which is now part of my community.

Blessings,

Stephanie

Meditation

Meditation

Meditation can be thought of as the art of awakening. Through the mastering of this art we can learn new ways to approach our difficulties and bring wisdom and joy alive in our life. By meditation’s tools and practices, we can awaken the best of our spiritual human capacities. The key to this art is the steadiness of our attention. When the fullness of our attention is cultivated together with a grateful and tender heart, our spiritual life will naturally grow. 

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Make your own essential oil foaming hand soap!

Thieves (or any essential fav oil) Foaming Hand Soap - make it yourself at home! Super simple with a few ingredients:

2 TB of Dr. Bronner’s 18-1 Hemp Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Soap

1 TB of Organic Virgin Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil

Distilled Water

15 drops Young Living Thieves Oil or any essential oil that you love!

Directions:

  1. Pour soap and the coconut oil into a glass measuring cup,

  2. Add essential oil (s)

  3. Slowly add distilled water and mix with a wire whisk.

  4. Pour into foaming pump container, fill with more water if needed.


 

Restorative Yoga -- What is it and how does it work?

What is Restorative Yoga? The creation of restorative yoga came out of the teachings of BKS Iyengar, of Pune, India (Dec 14, 1918 - August 20, 2014). The author of the classic yoga text "Light on Yoga" and many other books, Iyengar taught for most of his life and was widely recognized for his style of alignment within yoga asana practice utilizing various props. Iyengar's early teaching experience allowed him to see in his students how pain and/or injury can result from straining in a yoga pose. So, he experimented with props to modifying a pose until a student could practice without strain. Iyengar also explored how these modified poses could help people recover from illness or injury. It was because of his creativity that the restorative poses found in this class now offered at Maya Yoga in Kansas City, Missouri -- most of which have been developed or directly inspired by him -- are such powerful tools to reduce stress and restore health. 

In the Iyengar tradition, restorative yoga is thought of as active relaxation. So by supporting the body with props, a student alternatively relaxes and stimulates the body to move toward balance. Some poses have an overall benefit, whereas others may focus on an individual part, such as the neck, the heart or the lower back. All poses in a restorative yoga class create specific physiological responses that are beneficial to health and can help reduce the effects of stress-related disease and discomfort. 

How does Restorative Yoga work? Restorative poses help relieve the effects of chronic stress by using props, sequences designed to move the spine in all directions, and a variation of an inversion is included. Using props facilitates the body and allows for complete relaxation in each pose. The movements of the spine are important as the spine needs to move to stay healthy. So in restorative class, the spine will be supported laterally, in extension (back bend variations), in flexion (forward bend variations) and in twists. We finish with a variation of an inversion that reverses the effects of gravity. This can be as simple as putting the legs up the wall, on bolsters or even a chair. By changing the relationship of the legs to gravity, fluids are returned to the upper body and heart function is enhanced. The supported poses in a restorative class create more blood flow and breath enhancing and soothing the internal organs. 

The poses in a Restorative Yoga class are taught in a specific order and the effects of this kind of practice are cumulative. All yoga practitioners, whether their daily practice is ashtanga, vinyasa or any other style of yoga, will benefit from a restorative class in their weekly regimen of yoga. 

I always tell people, live happily and die majestically. 
BKS Iyengar

 

 

Jean Renée's Organic Body Butter

Prep time: 6 hours     Cook time: 20 minutes     Makes: 18-4 oz jars

Ingredients (if you click on the link for each ingredient you will be taken to Amazon for exactly what I use):

2 Cups Organic Shea Butter, 1 Cup Organic Coconut Oil, 1 Cup Organic Jojoba Oil, 5 drops Vitamin E Oil, 1/4 tsp Organic Argan Oil and 40 drops of Young Living Thieves Oil or any essential oil of your choice. If Young Living oils are out of your reach, Plant Guru has a wonderful fragrance oils pack with combination fragrances so you can experiment. The "Bandit" scent is their equivalent to Thieves by Young Living. Plant Guru has another variety pack that includes my favorites that I use frequently in my other preparations. 

Directions:

Fill a medium saucepan with one inch of water on medium heat. Place shea, coconut, jojoba, vitamin E, and argan oils into a glass container and set inside the saucepan. WARNING: DO NOT MICROWAVE OILS THIS STEP. Whisk the oils together until they are melted and combined. Mixture will go from white to a semi-clear when ready.

Remove glass container from saucepan, cover and place in refrigerator for 24 hours or until white and solid.

With a stand mixer, beat the oils until they are white and fluffy like a meringue. The more time you spend whipping, the more volume you will create. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer with the whisk attachment on setting 8 for 15 minutes. Add the essential oil of your choice as you whip. Fill your containers. 

This preparation will melt in temperatures over 76 degrees F/ 24.44 Celsius. 

The Story Behind Essential Thieves Oil

Thieves oil is an essential oil blend based on a story from around the 15th century, when the bubonic plague was running through Europe and Asia. Four thieves from Europe, who were notoriously robbing the infectious dead bodies of all their possessions, miraculously never contracted the highly infectious plague. This led to deep inquiry in court after they were caught and charged. The magistrate offered them a deal, their secret for a reduced sentence. Taking the deal, they told stories of their herbal knowledge and their powerful medicinal properties when combined in certain ways. This specific herbal blend that they had created, concocted from aromatic herbs, was HIGHLY EFFECTIVE in killing all of the airborne bacteria. Some of the stories told speak of it in a vinegar form, while others talk about a blend that was in a mask over their faces. In 1997, Weber State University did a study that found the Thieves essential oil blend to have a 99.96% success rate at killing airborne bacteria. I don’t know whether or not this "thieves" story is true, but the essential oils are truly antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-infectious. They will stimulate the immune system, circulation and respiratory system, and help protect against the flu, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, sore throats, cuts, and more.

"Research conducted at Weber State University, as well as other documented research, indicates that most viruses, fungi, and bacteria cannot live in the presence of many essential oils, especially those high in phenols, carcacrol, thymol, and terpenes. This, perhaps, offers a modern explanation why the Old Testament prophet Moses used aromatic substances to protect the Israelites from the plagues that decimated ancient Egypt. It may also help us understand why a notorious group of thieves, reputed to be spice traders and perfumers, was protected from the Black Plague as they robbed the bodies of the dead during the 15th century." (Essential Oils Desk Reference, 4th Edition, p6)

Changes in a golf swing, then pulled groin muscles...so now, what to do about it.

I just received a call from one of my students, Ms. B., in Florida, who is an incredible golfer and on the course about every day. She loves golf and she is good at it. She is a right-handed golfer, with a beautiful extended finish on her swing. And what I mean by that is when I watch her, I can clearly see her weight shift to her right foot and hip on her back swing, she cocks her wrists, and then shifts to her left foot and hip on the swing and follow through. She is a little bitty thing who has an awesome drive that someday I hope to master. She shared that her right inner thigh muscles were really sore and even irritated to the touch. So I asked her what was different about her game. Ms. B shared that she was playing around with widening her stance. There it was.

First let me say that I play golf. I love it. And I am not an expert golfer. But I have worked with golfers using yoga for over fifteen years. I have never understood the stance widening thing. This isn't baseball, this is golf. And why? The further your feet are apart, the more you compromise joint congruency of the knees and hips in golf...and I can't even get into the spine on this one or I will be writing all day. Joint congruency is a concept used in orthopedics that refers to the joint surfaces maintaining their natural curvature when in contact with one another. So when you add all of your weight, in this case to the back leg, (then shift as you twist, torque and shift to other leg to swing), the contractile forces of muscles that surround the joints involved in the movement create what is known as joint reaction forces. When joint articulations are taken beyond what the body used to, the joint reaction forces tend to be concentrated over a much smaller area, in this case, the inner hip joint. So, you want to spread joint reaction forces over a greater area by maintaining congruency of the joint surfaces. Clear as mud right?

So let's go back and walk through to what is happening with Ms. B. and let's for the sake of this blog, assume she is playing nine holes every day. I am familiar with the course that she plays and know that eight out of the nine holes, she uses her big dog driver. So eight times within two hours per day, she has been doing the following:

  • Her stance to address the ball is in external rotation (toes turned outward) which is a new thing she is trying on. Her back leg femur head is externally rotated more in the joint than her conscious mind is used to, and now it has to inwardly rotate more from a weighted position, to complete her swing.
  • She is standing wider - more than shoulder width apart. Her entire weight now, is being shifted a greater distance from her back leg to her front leg, increasing the joint reactive forces in the back leg (right) hip joint. The back leg is where the power is...right? It is not in your shoulder girdle. Your shoulders and arms are the pendulum that allows the club face to do it's work when your power generating forces are applied. Power is generated from your inhale, pulling up energy and connection from the ground, pelvic floor lifts, energy flows up your feet, legs and hips where it gathers in your naval center and explodes it into a desired action. In sports language, this would known as thoracic stabilization which has a bearing down type of energy. Whereas in yoga, we call this mulabandha, where the energy is brought up into the body and pooled in the belly to use at will.
  • So let's say this new stance has created a conscious difference and maybe the illusion that she has to hit the ball harder, maybe changing the speed of her swing? Now all these thoughts are in the way! More thoughts are present in the mind in an already over the top thought-filled sport! UGGG. It drove me crazy when I first learned to play because there was SO much to think about I kept getting in my own way. So, what happens to your power when you try really hard? Hold your breath? Dig your club into the ground? Throw your club? Say something that is out in the Universe forever that you can never take back? Let's take a pause and another deep breath.

This is how I helped Ms. B take responsibility for what is happening in her golf game that is causing her pain.

The Ms. B Solution:

  • Go back to toes forward, feet shoulder width apart.
  • Warm to hot Epson salt and baking soda baths daily, just like grandmother used to do, to pull lactic acid out of sore muscles.
  • Supportive inner thigh garments for at least one week to support inner thighs.
  • Walk a little more than just the golf course.
  • Next two weeks, the big dog stays in the bag along with other drivers. Just know that a few extra shots will be taken on all drives. The handicap will return in good time. Take easy swings with a favorite iron, allowing the inhale to flow in on the back swing, pause at the top, cock your wrists, and exhale through the swing and follow through. Have fun with this...and enjoy the club doing the work.
  • Week Three: Yoga to release the internal rotators of the hip (specifically the tensor fascia lata and the gluteus medius) to maintain the joints. The test run: from a chair, cross right ankle on top of left thigh close to the knee. Flex the right foot. If this causes pain in the inner groin, stop. Your body has not healed enough yet. Another week of easy golf and walking. If you are good here, move to your mat on the floor and proceed to next step.
  • Lay down on your back, cross the right ankle over left thigh as before and flex the right foot. Curl up pressing your lower back down on the floor with your belly muscles, and take your right arm through the legs, left arm on outside of left leg, and hold your left shin just below the knee. Stay curled up, balancing on your lower back, hugging the shoulder blades down. Keeping your right foot flexed, contract your biceps, chest muscles and hug your shoulder blades down. Take 5 slow breaths. Now, press your right elbow against your right thigh, moving the right knee away from the shoulder, keeping right foot flexed. 5 more breaths. Next, press right knee into right elbow, take 5 breaths. Now stop pushing, and draw the right leg into your chest more keeping the right foot flexed. Hold for 3 breaths. Release by taking both hands to right knee, drawing it towards your belly, and slowly set your right foot on the floor. Rest there on your back, knees together, feet apart.
  • Feel the difference between the two hip joints. Take your feet mat-width apart and "windshield-wiper" your knees to the midline towards the floor, alternating slowly to feel the resonance of the stretch in the hip.
  • Do all steps on the other side. Contracting and releasing the stretching muscles uses what is known as PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) to lengthen the hip internal rotators in this case.

I have taught this one pose, with these specific cues to all athletes I work with that have hip tightness. Golfing students in Florida, football & baseball players in Kansas, even the young track stars in Trenton, Missouri. You can do this yoga pose adaptation no matter how tight you are from a chair, or the floor on your back as described here, or from sitting on the floor (fire log pose aka agnistambhasana) or for advanced yogi's, standing and balancing on one leg. That is the beauty of yoga; creating mindfulness and kindness, adapting the poses for your needs, while cultivating your unique source of will, strength and flexibility.