Monday, June 16, 2014

Mala Love

Recently, a friend introduced me to the wonderful world of malas. We were out to lunch and I was immediately drawn in by this beautiful necklace she was wearing. She explained that it was a mala. At the time, I didn't know what a mala was but I was more than ready to find out.

Malas are used as a meditation necklace. They can be made from rudraksha seeds or gemstones.   Typically, a mala has 108 beads. Why 108 beads you ask? Well there are many reasons why 108 is an important number you can find the list here. The 109th bead is the Guru bead, when you reach this bead you are to stop and thank your teachers and those who have influenced your life. Malas that are given as presents can be powerful tool for meditation.

To use a mala, you start on either side of the Guru bead (which will be the big bead in the center). Holding the first bead between your thumb and middle finger, focus on your mantra (can be a Vedic hymm or a slogan for you to live by that day such as: strength, gratitude, integrity, etc.) or your breath (inhaling on one bead, exhaling on the other).

Malas are great for individuals who are just starting their meditation practice. The presence of the necklace draws back in a wandering mind. The Mayo Clinic has an article about the benefits of meditating. If you don't want to read the whole thing, I can recap it for you. Meditation helps you gain new perspective on stressful situations and build new skills to manage stress. Your self awareness is increased and you're able to focus on the present. Basically, meditation teaches mindfulness. There are SO MANY benefits to this.

Most malas are handmade. When purchasing, you want to stay away from any dyed products. I've begun making my own (that in and of itself is a great way to teach mindfulness... but that's a different article). Let me know if you've got any questions!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Where to find me!

- Visit my studio class at Clayton Yoga Monday nights at 6:30.
- Click here to book a private class with me!

- It is first come first serve, please arrive 10 minutes early to ensure a spot.
- Wear comfortable clothing and bring a mat!
- Relax your mind, body and soul.


As an avid runner, I found pleasure in allowing my mind to wander. To me, freedom came along with running. After an injury that required time to heal, I gravitated towards yoga. I began practicing yoga in 2009. But once injured, my passion for yoga grew. In 2013 I became a registered yoga instructor.
If you let it, yoga will provide more than just a physical outlet. It allows you to explore your mind and your breath as well. Uniting all three components of your body opens up a whole new journey in life. By practicing with me, I will help you create your own journey through yoga.
You can expect my class to challenge your body; and if you allow your breath to center your mind, it can be relaxing too. My Vinyasa class will flow through poses in a timely manor. Students should expect to receive direction in poses and options for more advanced poses. Beginners and experienced yogis welcome!
Yoga is a gift I intend to share with everyone. See you on the mat!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The secrets behind Ayurveda

Tea? Don't mind if I do.

If you know me, I swear by chamomile. It's my preferred drug of choice. You may laugh... but literally anytime I get sick... I just sip on some of that and I'm cured.

So, a couple of days ago, I drove past my favorite little nursery and saw they were hosting a tea making class. Naturally, I was intrigued. This was right up my alley. I couldn't wait! Not to mention, the woman giving the talk was my favorite tea maker in STL, The ReTrailer.

Lisa began making her own tea once she had heard about Ayurveda at a yoga training. Ayurveda is the Sanskrit word for "knowledge of life." She handed out flyer about her practice, here is a little blurb from it.
"According the Ayurvedic principles, every aspect of life-the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual- contributes to your overall health. By balancing these elements and addressing the body as a whole, Ayurveda restores the equilibrium when you're ill and keeps your body's natural defense system strong when you're healthy." 

So, everyone has their own dosha. You can be a Vata, Pitta or a Kapha.
Vatas being visionary, imaginative, full of energy. Spacey anxious and uptight.
Pittas being confident, passionate, organized and fiery. Typically strong and have fast digestion. When in balance, they're very dependable.
Kaphas tend to be loyal, kind hearted and love their sleep. Tend to crave things that aren't really healthy for you... but they should be eating veggies and fruits.

You can take this quiz to find out which one fits your body. But if your name is Amanda Jackson, you shouldn't bother taking the quiz. You're a Vata. I'm a mixture of Kapha and Vata.

Tea suggestions for Vatas:

  • Relaxing and grounding blends. 
    • Grounding herbs (earthy) 
    • Fall foods: kale potato and roots
  • Chamomile,
  • Dandelion root 
  • Rose
  • Hibiscus tea
  • Apple/cinnamon/ allspice blend
  • Rosemary 
Tea suggestions for Pittas:
  • Cooling and relaxing blends:
  • Spearmint
  • Chamomile
  • Rosemary
  • Cucumber
  • Lavender 
  • Sage
  • Fennel 
Tea suggestions for Kaphas:
  • Stimulating blends:
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Floral teas
  • Lavender
  • Spearmint
  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
Tips to make fresh herb tea:
- You'll need more herbs then you think you will! Herbs release more essential oils once dried, so if you're using fresh... add more! 
- Cover the pot while brewing or not drinking. This will keep more essential oils in. They are released when water is cooling off. 
- Cut off the herb at the greenest part. Place the herb in a pot and poor water over it! If you're using lemongrass, just cut off about 6 inches. If you're using a root, make sure to submerge the root- not the flower or leaf. 

Tips to make dry herb tea: 
- Snip plant, dry it, crunch it up. Crunching it releases essential oils. 
- To dry, bundle your plants and hang upside down. Keep in dark place for 3-7 days. The herbs should be stored in an airtight container which is stored in a cool dark place. They can last for 6 months. 
- Be weary of tea shops that store teas in clear containers.
- When brewing, cover the top of the pot! 

Ice Tea:
- Double the batch of herbs, when it is cool the tea will lose flavor.
- Rosemary, Rose, Fennel, Spearmint, Floral or Cucumber are great ideas for iced tea. 

Water temp.: 
- Florals should have a lower temperature. Bring the water to a boil and then set aside before brewing. 
- Hardy herbs (such as rosemary or sage) can withstand a rolling boil. Brew for about 10 minutes. 
- Roots can withstand anything. Rolling boil and brew for as long as you like. 

- Stiva is a natural sweetener. One leaf should be sweet enough... well, depending on how sweet you like your tea!
- Honey is great! Local honey is the best. Choose a flower honey (vs. a clove honey) to keep it a neutral taste. 
- Sucanat is one step removed from raw sugar. 

- Cheese cloth is great
- Paint strainer bags: come in bulk- and you can buy it from a local hardware store! 
- Normal mesh strainer. 

Great reasons to drink tea: 
- Lemongrass: anti-inflammatory, immune builder (helps with seasonal changes), reduces anxiety 
- Rosemary: Increases circulation 
- Spearmint: Musanogenic 
- Valerian Root: helps to calm you down, reduces anxiety.
- Jasmine: Reduces anxiety 
- Lavendar: Reduces anxiety, soothing, anti-bacterial 
- Chamomile: Reduces anxiety 
- Ginger: circulatory stimulant, helps with fevers, helps with nausea, eases arthritis

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