Connecting with Nature and Spirit..even when it gets cold!
Date Added: November 15, 2013 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Living Seasonally & Locally
When the cold breeze starts to rush off the St-Lawrence river, its easy to spend an entire day sitting fireside in the lounge.
Thankfully, wanting to be outside in the fresh air, to spend time in nature and to reflect in stillness is an innate part of our Being.
Because of the mild weather today, I feel more inspired (and maybe even called) to spend some time outdoors…and I know exactly where to head…One of Wolfe Island’s hidden gems: Big Sandy Bay Beach.
From the first steps, I really begin to appreciate the uniqueness of each season. The natural surroundings look completely different from how I remember it on a hot day this summer.
Although all the leaves are fallen, the trees are barren (and making loud and scary cracking sounds) and the sun is hiding behind the clouds, there is still so much beauty to take in.
Nature seems to bring out our wisdom and creativity which is lies within us – I feel a sense of stillness, yet at the same time, my thoughts are filled with a bouquet of inspirational quotes.
“Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.” – Oprah Winfrey
Mother Nature has such subtle yet grand ways of reminding us of her magnificence. Without saying anything, this amazing tree really knows how to put things into perspective as it stands here so majestically.
This lovely walk is not only calming and inspiring but let’s not forget to mention educational. Lucky me gets to sharpen my tree distinguishing skills… from ironwood, to birch, oak and white ash.
A little further down the path, I am greeted by the beauty of this amazing red bush..What a contrast! Like they say, there is a pearl in every oyster. This bush is a red osier dogwood (Thank you educational signage!)
I can tell I am getting closer to the beach as I begin to hear the roaring of the waves in the background. I have done this walk before so I know that the only thing standing between me and the water is this last little hill. I have no problem with any hill covered in white beach sand.
WOW….lost for words. I always love walking to Big Sandy Bay, but this time was like no other. The immensity of the wind and waves completely blew away any last thoughts I had left in my mind and brought me to complete stillness and peace. Nature is amazing, water is amazing!
I gaze up to the sky and see a few seagulls and of course I ask myself “how amazing it would be to fly?” They say anything is possible, right? Although, maybe it is not so much my dream today since the wind is so strong… they seem to do this effortlessly.
“Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease . . . with carefreeness, harmony, and love. And when we harness the forces of harmony, joy, and love, we create success and good fortune with effortless ease.” – Deepak Chopra
I spend a few minutes just gazing into the horizon, nothing but blue sea ahead (it really does look like the ocean today!) and feel completely re-connected and grounded with nature, and also within. Its so interesting that even a walk in nature can turn into a spiritual experience. Like Saul David Raye reminds us, spirituality can be anything we put our spirit, or our intention into…well, my spirit is definitely here!
It is time to turn back and find my way down the trail again. I continue to be an observer of my surroundings and notice many new things on the way back. With the sun out from behind the clouds, shining her rays down around me, it makes my return voyage a completely new experience.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust
I’m feeling pretty good today, but its comforting to know that if I needed to take a break, I would be supported by this lovely rock couch…part of me wants to sit on it anyway (don’t get to do that everyday…nor would I want to..I dont think??)
I am usually in a mentality of “needing to go for a walk” to get my exercise, or vitamin D or fresh air, but today was such an amazing reminder that taking a walk in nature is so important for not only the physical body, but our mind and spirit.
So this fall (and winter), make a promise to yourself to spend time in nature, and to nurture all of your layers.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Date Added: October 22, 2013 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Whole Foods Living
1 ½ cup red lentils, rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
2 chilies, whole dried
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp coconut oil, olive oil or ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 Onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, fresh grated
1 cup tomato, chopped
1 tbsp Lemon, freshly juiced
1 tsp garam masala
photo credit: Anne Bertand www.lesbohneurs.fr
IN A LARGE SAUCEPAN, combine lentils, stock, chilies, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until lentils are tender, stirring frequently. You may add up to an additional cup of water or stock until desired consistency. ADD tomatoes and sauté for another 7 minutes.
HEAT oil in a small skillet on medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and sauté for about 30 seconds, until seeds are fragrant but not burning.
ADD onions, garlic and ginger. Reduce heat to medium and sauté for about 5 minutes, until onions begin to brown.
DISCARD chilies once lentils are tender. ADD onion mixture to lentils with lemon juice, garam masala, and sea salt.
Makes 6 servings
Asana of the week with Wendy: Plough Pose
Date Added: October 7, 2013 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Living with Yoga
This past weekend we were blessed to offer a Journey Dance and Expressive Arts Retreat with 2 great facilitators, Diane and Nicole. Guests also had the opportunity to enjoy morning yoga classes with Wendy. Read below as Wendy explains the various benefits of Halasana.
Halasana, or the plough pose, has so many wonderful benefits and is one of my personal favourites.
As an inverted asana there is the benefit of reversing the flow of blood in the body, increasing blood supply to the head and all of the glands located there. You are also reversing the effects of gravity on the body and therefore some yogis claim it is an anti-aging pose.
There is also the benefit of keeping the spine healthy and flexibility which is vital for one’s overall level of health and longevity. As well, there is the very beneficial effect that the pose has on balancing the thyroid gland.
From an energetic perspective, in the Agama Yoga tradition, halasana works on ajna cakra; the mental command centre of one’s being. Working with this chakra has the potential to improve clarity, concentration and focus of the mind.
With so many incredible benefits, it is no wonder the yogis consider halasana a powerful addition to one’s hatha yoga practice.
If you are new to the pose start slow; be mindful and aware of your body while performing it. In the beginning you may need to modify your performance. As you become more comfortable, increase the length of time you spend it. Perhaps working up to holding for 5 minutes.
Afterwards, pause and savour both the physical and energetic benefits.
Om Shanti, Shanti…..
MoonDance and Expressive Arts Retreat with Diane, Nicole and Yoga with Wendy
October 4th – 6th, 2013
Easiest dessert ever!!! Maple Flax Cookies
Date Added: | Comments (0) | Filed under: Whole Foods Living
Sometimes we crave a delicious homemade, all natural dessert, but don’t have the time to spend hours in kitchen. If you can relate to this, this is the recipe for you.
Whenever we need a quick dessert for a retreat, I turn to Jae Steele for her delicious and simple cookie recipes. I have never tried this recipe before, but when I saw that there were only 6 simple ingredients, that I didn’t have to use/wash 2 separate bowls for wet and dry.. AND they only took 10-12 minutes to cook…I knew it was the winner!
The best part about these cookies (other than the fact that they melt in your mouth and taste like shortbread), was that all the guests loved them. Mission accomplished Shanti Kitchen!
Maple Flax Vegan Cookies
The cookies were gone so fast, that we didn’t think to take any photos. But the good news is, these cookies will be back again soon!
2 cups spelt flour
1/4 flax seeds (not ground flax, but the seeds)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine together flour, flax seeds, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
Add syrup and coconut oil and mix until just absorbed.
Roll dough into walnut size balls and place them on the baking sheet.
Use a fork to or your peace fingers to make an impression in each cookie.
Bake for 12 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown.
Enjoy and be sure to share with your friends, family, co-workers or neighbors!
Something Sweet: Lemon Bliss Balls
Date Added: | Comments (0) | Filed under: Whole Foods Living
Even with the publication of our new (and first!) cookbook, there is no way we could have included all of our favorite recipes. Good thing for the Shanti Whole Foods Living Blog! We will continuously be posting recipes that you love (which are not found in the cookbook), so stay tuned!
There is nothing like sharing the benefits of whole foods – especially when it’s something sweet:)
Raw Vegan Lemon Bliss Balls (Makes about 15 balls)
2 1/4 cups almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
5 lemons (juiced)
3 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil
coconut, raw sugar for rolling
Place almonds into a food processor and pulse into small pieces (not into a flour).
Add remaining ingredients and process until well combined.
Take out a spoonful at a time and roll into a ball shape.
Roll half the balls in coconut and the other half in raw sugar.
Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Asana of the Week with Hali Schwartz: Ustrasana: camel pose
Date Added: September 24, 2013 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Living with Yoga
Ustrasana: The camel pose
This hatha yoga posture is the consummate back bend. it has it all! The opening of the heart center (anahata chakra); the stimulating and toning of the spinal nerves especially of the lumbar and sacral regions; the expansion of the principal respiratory muscles – the diaphragm; improves the functioning of the digestive organs, and also helps to energize the entire system.
Weekend Yoga Retreat with Hali Schwartz
September 20-22, 2013
Meditation with Manu: resetting your inner clock
Date Added: September 15, 2013 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Living with Yoga
Meditation is for me like a love story that started more than 20 years ago.
To bring regular meditation into your life is really beneficial, among other things, it helps relax the body, reduce stress and improve focus. It is like resetting your inner clock. It is as essential as regular body hygiene, without that you tend to be the play of your thoughts and emotions and get lost in the labyrinth of the mind.
True meditation is like coming home, home sweet home, where you can finally relax, be yourself and feel nurtured by consciousness itself. I wish you all to also fall in love with meditation and to find your way back to the source of who you truly are.
Manu, guest instructor in Shanti
August 30-September 1st Evolution of Consciousness Retreat
Sept 6-11th Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat
Apple Cinnamon Millet muffin…from our new cookbook!!
Date Added: September 7, 2013 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Whole Foods Living
Apple Cinnamon Millet Muffins
2 cups spelt flour
2/3 cup millet
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 tsp sea salt
1 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fruit*
*We love the flavors of baked apples, but you can also use berries, or peaches, fresh or frozen , but not thawed
PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Line 12 muffin cups with a light coating of oil.
WHISK together flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt in a large bowl.
IN A SEPARATE BOWL, add milk, applesauce, sweetener, oil and vanilla.
COMBINE the wet ingredients with the dry just until flour has been absorbed. Gently fold in the baked apples.
DIVIDE batter among prepared muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.
TRANSFER muffins to a wire cooling rack.
Makes 12 muffins
PREHEAT oven to 350° F .
DICE and core apples into 1 inch cubes
PLACE apples in a baking dish with coconut oil, cinnamon, and a dash of brown sugar or maple syrup.
BAKE for 30 minutes.
Asana of the Week with Tiina Veer from Yoga for Round Bodies
Date Added: August 23, 2013 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Living with Yoga
Supta Bada Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Supta Bada Konasana is a jewel from Restorative Yoga that I like to include in Restorative classes, as well as in longer Hatha classes for an opening guided relaxation.
Supta Bada Konasana has many benefits — don’t be fooled by its soft appearance! There is so much going on. Because I’m an anatomy geek, let me share with you some of the effects I find anatomically magical, among a few others:
• Possibly my favourite effect is what happens due to the unique supported leg position: with hips and knees in flexion, and hips in supported abduction (i.e., out to the sides on blocks, no stretch in the groin), and with the pelvis slightly tipped forward by the bolster behind the back, all the muscles that usually pull on the pelvis are slackened. This allows the pelvis to relax into a slackened sling, and be guided into alignment by the structure of the props. It’s awesome: the psoas, QL’s, erector spinae, quads, hams, gluts, adductors—even piriformis!—are all slackened.
Coupled with the feet together and bound, the legs stay aligned, thus allowing the pelvis to find alignment between the femurs.
• The chest is pressed open to the sky by the bolster behind the back, the weight of the free arms pulling the shoulders to the ground. Because this can often be held for minutes by beginners, and 15 or 20 minutes by more experienced practitioners, connective tissue across the chest and anterior shoulders can be gently but effectively lengthened. It’s also a great position to explore all the movements of the ribcage when breathing, and on deep breathing, a great way to stretch open the muscles and sinews between and around the ribs. This open-hearted position is also used in yoga therapy to treat depression and heart conditions.
• The position of the neck on a high support (here a chunky folded blanket), with the chin coming toward the throat, gently lengthens the back of the neck. When held for minutes at a time, it can have a significant effect on the often shortened connective tissue there (major cause of tension headaches). This position also bows the forehead to the chest, a symbolic way to surrender the ego and honour the greater wisdom of the heart, and is also a meditation technique used to calm the mind.
This pose, like so many others in Restorative Yoga, also helps us to challenge our need to constantly do.
So often we need to spend time undoing before doing. As a teacher, I love it for its many benefits and because it’s so beginner-friendly. As a practitioner, I love it because it feels like coming home.
Yoga for Round Bodies Retreat
Aug 16-18, 2013
Asana of the Week with Kellie Dearman – Navasana
Date Added: August 14, 2013 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Living with Yoga
Navasana (Boat Pose)
I teach boat pose as a way of building core strength to my students of all levels. I particularly love poses that you can use for beginners and that can easily be adapted for more advanced practitioners. For beginners this pose helps to build awareness of the abdominal, back and hip flexor muscles. I start from a regular bent-leg seated position with hands holding onto the backs of thighs. To begin, raise bent legs while maintaining hold on thighs. Move your weight backwards over the sacrum and until you find the spot to balance upon with lower legs parallel to the floor. Begin to explore the muscles and strength required to hold in this position. Release the hold on one leg, and then the other if possible, and position the arms in a line parallel to the floor. Keep the abdominal floor firm and gently broaden through the heart and chest, relaxing the shoulders and neck tension. Maintain a firm and strong spine but let the head rest gently in alignment with the rest of the spine. Use breath to release any tension building in the shoulders. Breathe deeply throughout the hold. With practice lengthen the amount of time.
When sufficient strength has developed, begin to practice this pose with legs extended in a straight line, about a 45-degree angle with the floor. Match that angle with the torso. For more challenge, extend the arms up overhead, in line with the spine.
Builds strength in the abdominal, hip flexors and spine
Stimulates internal organs, particularly kidneys and intestines
Calming, stress relieving
Any issues with digestive track or lungs that are aggravated by squeezing of internal organs
Neck injuries or headaches if exascerbated
Low blood pressure
If tailbone is bruised or sensitive, a variation of this pose can be explore while resting on forearms, but watch for added pressure in back of neck.
Kellie Dearman teaches Gentle Hatha Yoga in a style adaptable to all ages and abilities. She runs Aware Yoga studio from her home in Stirling, Ontario and also
teaches many classes of Yoga for Older Adults for the City of Belleville
Aware Yoga on Facebook