Summer is not only my favorite time because of the heat and the long days but also because so many fruits, vegetables, and spices are in bloom. One of my absolute favorites is lavender because of its texture, aroma, and color. There are fields of it growing nearby where we live, and visiting them on summer days right before the sun comes up or just before it sets is one of the most magical sights I have witnessed. Summer temperatures have been skyrocketing lately and due to ozone concentration in the air, it is unsafe to be outside during the peak hours of the day (from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm). On the other hand, I don’t feel as sorry for not spending more time outside, but instead using it to share with you one of my favorite summer refreshment recipes inspired by lavender.
It is called the lavender lemonade.
You will need the following:
- three handfuls of lavender flowers
- one pound of sugar (I use coconut sugar)
- one-quarter of a gallon of water (I use spring water as it is as fresh and natural as water can get)
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Add the sugar and let it dissolve.
- Once cooled to room temperature, add the lavender flowers.
- Let it steep overnight.
- Then, take the flowers out.
- Strain the liquid into a separate container.
You now have a lavender syrup ready. Mix it with more water and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I like the surprise factor when it magically turns its color to pink. I love the color and even more so the taste.
Lavender can be used in numerous other culinary delights, such as teas, lavender-spiced coffees, ice cream and baked goods. It also adds sweetness to any berry jams. Just sprinkle dried flowers to any of the prior-mentioned treats.
Lavender is not just useful in the kitchen but can be furthermore great for scenting linens with its subtle yet sweet aroma. What I like to do with it is turning it into a handmade lavender oil, if not stem distilled. It usually resembles more of an infusion which is simply more reduced than an essential oil but therefore
Compassion is a subtle act of kindness and love expression to those around us. It is an emotional feeling that is glorified in all religions, social settings, and communities. People who show compassion are revered, respected, and regarded highly in any society around the world. In the Dalai Lama’s own words, he stated: “Whether one believes in a religion or not and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who does not appreciate kindness and compassion.”
Whether you smile at people as a show of appreciation or just accepting your mistakes and forgiving yourself, it is an act of compassion. It is a feeling that springs deep down in our hearts, with love, and each one of us is born with it. It has no attachment to an external object, and it is pure by nature. It cannot be solicited and, therefore, making one feel bad so that we may forgive them is not an act of compassion rather than that of greed, selfishness, and of a twisted mind.
Meditation can bring out the best in people in all circumstances. It can awaken the subconscious brain, which holds the keys to our happiness and emotional balance. These may, in turn, activate the hidden true self, which is filled with compassion, love, and kindness. Being hard on ourselves is counterproductive, yet we always do it. It, however, should never be the case and we should strive to liberate ourselves from the patterns of thoughts we have developed over the years that prevents us from being who we are meant to be: compassionate beings.
Meditation For Compassion
We need to make sure that we are, first and foremost, compassionate towards ourselves. We can never give others what we don’t have ourselves. Each day we must strive to always accept ourselves by not being so hard on ourselves. We should also remove all distressing factors in our lives, ensure that we give room for other people and their opinions and always perform small kinds of kindness. It will go a long way in developing our meditation routine for compassion.
Steps For Compassion Meditation
- Select a comfortable place to practice. A quiet environment with no distractions should be the starting point for this type of meditation.
- Focus on those faced with misfortune. Visualize the people who you are more likely to feel compassionate about. Make your visualization as vivid as possible for best results.
- Fill your minds with happy thoughts of them overcoming their sorrows. Visualize them as they recover from their stressful to a more healthy life in the present and the future.
- The next step is we need to practice mindfulness and gentle awareness of compassion. Let that feeling fill your body as you go deeper into meditation.
- Let go of any distractions that come along during meditation and continue observing proper posture and breathing techniques as you go deeper and deeper into a meditative state.
It is important to note that any meditation can follow the above steps. It is because the focus is placed on the visualization process and connection with your emotional inner-self.
Complete Yogic Breathing
Oxygen is the most necessary element for our body to function properly and if our blood hasn’t received enough oxygen, then the life of cells will reduce. Even though this is general knowledge, and everybody understands we need oxygen to function and stay healthy, we tend to give almost no attention to breathing. Since we’ve been doing this since birth, we have come to believe it cannot be done incorrectly. But the truth is, most people don’t breathe fully, but fast and with only a half of the full lung capacity. On the other hand, yogi masters of the east have always paid utmost attention to complete and thorough breathing, and in fact, have measured human lives by breath count. It is popularly believed that slow breathing is the secret of their longevity.
Before trying to breathe like a yogi, one must determine how badly they are actually breathing. Seeing the mistakes we make is the first step in resolving them.
There are three most common types of breathing:
- The first is abdominal, most common in males. The diaphragm is lowering in the moment of inhalation, and the abdomen swells up. This breathing technique is not complete but is much better and more profound than the other two listed below.
- Chest breathing is the second method and is achieved with the expansion of the ribs and spreading of the lungs.
- The third and most superficial type of breathing is clavicular. The air gets in the body by raising the clavicles. This method fills only the upper part of the lungs with air. It is often instinctively used by females since it is natural and the only possible technique during the pregnancy.
Complete yogic breathing connects all of the methods mentioned above in one full breath. The best way to learn this breathing technique is by lying on your back, which allows for the deepest relaxation. Also, since we are not used to breathing fully, it can result in dizziness, which makes this position the best and safest option. Be sure to wear comfy, breathable clothes while doing this exercise. Regular workout clothes will do.
Here is the technique in four steps:
- Breathe out completely. It is the key element for correct breathing. Although this seems like a simple step, we rarely really breathe out. To make this easier, feel free to use the Om sound while breathing out, this will make being entirely out of breath more clear.
- Slowly lower your diaphragm when breathing out. Then let the air come in and raise your abdomen.
- When your abdomen is at highest point expand the ribs; and fill the lungs completely, raising the clavicles.
- It is important to breathe slowly, without breaks, silently and through the nose. Breathe out in the order you breathed in and at the end tighten your abdomen.
Along with choosing a daily time for this exercise, feel free to breathe completely any time you think of it. With some time, complete yogic breathing will become more natural to you, and you will breathe correctly with ease, which will result in healthier and possibly even longer life.
Temperatures are rapidly dropping outside, so it’s time for yogis to start considering how they’re going to bundle up as the final leaves fall. Start your collection of some yoga leggings, yoga pants, sweatshirts, and winter coats, even if you’re more interested in a stylish ensemble.
Many yogis are weighing the benefits of puffer coats, open-front cardigans, and cable-knit sweaters to keep their extremities warm this winter. While they all certainly have their advantages, some yogis prefer the more casual appearance of a hoodie. A hoodie gives the impression that your outfit was effortlessly thrown together, with all the added benefits of having a hood to protect you from rain, snow, and sleet. A hoodie is an excellent choice because it offers protection for your chest, as well as your arms. This extra layer can insulate you from bitter winds and help to protect your health throughout the season.
The question is, what type of hoodie is really the best to wear this fall and winter?
There are a number of trends that many yogis are interested in incorporating into their wardrobe, and a hoodie is a perfect place to begin experimenting. From shredded styles to strappy cutouts, a hoodie can give yogis just a brief taste of all the latest fashion trends. And there are many elegant ways to wear a hoodie.
One of the most popular styles of hoodies this season features cutouts that are covered up with intricate strappy patterns. Particularly in the front of the jacket, they create the possibility for a V-neck appearance on your hoodie. The straps serve to keep the hoodie in place on your shoulders to help keep you warm even in the winter winds.
The main benefit to this cutout style hoodie is that it allows you to show off your top underneath. Add a pop of bright seasonally appropriate color, perhaps one inspired by many of the spices we cook with this season. Think of cinnamon spice-colored long sleeve shirts, turmeric-hued tank tops, and paprika camisoles tucked beneath a neutral hoodie.
Are you still having a hard time deciding whether this edgy hoodie fashion is right for you? Consider that it can still be worn in a variety of ways, depending on the basic pieces you already keep in your closet. If you’re a yogi who prefers high-waist Capri leggings and looking for a cropped hoodie with this style, it will give you:
- A more modern appearance
- It will show off the shapewear in your favorite Capri leggings
- And will still keep you warm.
Does a cropped hoodie make you feel self-conscious when exposing your abdomen? Look for a tunic-length hoodie with a strappy cutout to help cover more of your bottom half. This style is always appropriate with a quality pair of full-length yoga leggings.
No matter what your style is, you can find a way to add a hoodie with cutouts and straps into your wardrobe this winter. Make this the next best piece that you add to your yoga ensemble.
In a similar way to yoga which has the seven chakras, Ancient Egyptians believed in energy centers that could be harnessed for better well-being and longevity. By harnessing the energy centers, through the system of Alkhemi Sekhem, you can promote self-healing through the path of enlightened spirituality.
To the Egyptians, everything was sacred, from the surrounding animals, waters and plant life, to the earth they lived on. The Earth and all that resided within was a living symbol of the inner spiritual world to them, and they idolized it, through their artifacts and how they lived their lives.
Their existence served a specific purpose, they were on a quest to align the physical world with its divine source. In order to accomplish this, they created relationships with their own deities, and took an approach to life that they called “the intelligence of the heart.”
These beliefs, at their core, are thought to have healing powers and can be used today to help anyone who is in need of some spiritual growth, guidance, and empowerment.
The Two Principles of Alkhemi Sekhem
The energy that can be harnessed is unlimited and is done through natural means. Your hands draw the energy in, which flows through your body-field and can then be focused on a direct person or object. In order to access the energy, you need two things: intentions and symbols (hieroglyphics). Higher frequencies of energy raise the overall vibration levels in the body-field, thus replenishing lower energy levels more quickly.
Certain Egyptian symbols, beliefs, and deities connect to specific vibration center or zone. By directing energy to the centers, through the body-field, you can balance your mind, body, and spirit and provide each with healing properties.
How to Connect to the Energy Centers?
Many often connect to one or more of the centers on intuition alone. We feel as though something is off, we have a headache perhaps, and we know intuitively to lie down and rest. Another way to connect is more intentional and can be done through a variety of approaches: meditation, shamanic journeying, sacred rituals and dance, prayer, yoga, healing crystals and aromatic oils.
Primary Energy Centers
There are nine primary energy centers, each one relates to a specific Egyptian God or Goddess, a stone, an essence, and the resulting process. The first five begin above the crown of the head, where the spiritual entity begins and works its way to the heart of the body.
The next set of four starts at the upper abdomen and works its way down through to the earth, beyond where the physical entity ends. Harmony and Balance, although not actually a primary, are included in the chart since this zone is relevant to our entire system; it is located in the two hands of our body.
Secondary Energy Centers
There are also eight secondary centers, which alternate between the primary down the entire physical entity or body.
Alkhemi Yoga Fusion
Alkhemi yoga works together with the energy centers allowing for the body to become balanced and energized. The yoga fusion typically can include one of the following: Sun Sequence, Earth Sequence, Hathor Sequence, or even the Nine Centers Sequence, which uses all of the nine primary energy centers. Other techniques such as dance, relaxation or meditation are also used to help one gain all the benefits from this ancient Egyptian healing. Harness your energy and healing power through the practice of Alkemi Sekhem and perhaps you will be able to achieve the level of enlightenment the Ancient Egyptians once did.
Sunshine and summertime – trips to the beach, long days in the sun, yoga on beach towels on the sand… And plenty of time for a good book!
Many people who haven’t practiced yoga fail to realize the mental toughness of the activity, the stamina required to practice well. When you do yoga, it’s not just your physical body getting a workout – your mind does just as much, if not more, work. That’s why reading books related to the yoga field is so important if you have decided to pursue a healthier mind.
Here are our top books related to the world of yoga that will help you channel a sense of self-discovery and connection to the pieces of the universe inside of you.
“Love Letter to the Earth” by Thich Nhat Hanh
This book is beautifully written by an incredibly well-known Buddhist teacher and peace activist, and its zen-like passages illustrate a passion for the earth that is awe-inspiring. Filled with mantras to repeat in your head as you go throughout the day, Love Letter to the Earth becomes a place to learn how to remind yourself to love your surroundings. One of his techniques, called “Mindful Walking,” shows us how to grace the earth with our every footstep. In his literal letters to Mother Earth, Nhat Hanh teaches us to respect the world around us for more than simply what it can give us.
“With each step, I come home to the earth.
With each step, I return to my source.
With each step, I take refuge in Mother Earth.”
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
This book by Paulo Coelho has received a wide range of feedback since it was published, making it a great summer read to start conversations. The novel follows the spiritual journey of a shepherd boy named Santiago and his adventures across a desert. As he explores, he meets new people who challenge his ideas of the world’s treasures and what wealth actually means.
“Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” by Annie Dillard
Everything by Annie Dillard is full of wisdom, attention to detail, and challenges to make readers better humans. This, her first collection, focuses on natural elements and how to connect more fully with what is around you. This book helped me to focus more directly on each individual detail in my life as I try to figure out how to tackle each moment.
“The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
If you’re looking for a book to change your perspective on happiness and how to find it, this is the book for you. Two of our generation’s wisest men Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu share their insights into how to find lasting joy in the midst of tragedy, confusion, and materialism. Despite their stark religious differences, the men share a desire to see humankind love each other better, and that passion shows through in their words.
This summer, plan a reading group to discuss one or all of these texts, or just read them by yourself to embrace what the authors are trying to communicate. Whatever you decide to read, allow it to soak into somewhere deep inside of you. Allow it to change you. Happy reading!
The combination of yoga and cannabis can create a beautiful practice. Cannabis is often added to a yoga practice to enhance the yoga experience. It allows practitioners to go deeper both physically and mentally while eliminating distractions. Adding cannabis to yoga can allow those with physical and mental ailments to enjoy the benefits of yoga on a different level.
To know which strand to pick, you must know some background about the different types of cannabis strains. There are three groups of cannabis: Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. It’s important to know the differences between these three groups because they produce very different effects.
- Indica strands produce more of a body high. This means that the body can feel anywhere from just a tingly sensation to becoming almost completely immobile or “couch locked”. It’s important to know the strength of the Indica strand and how your body will react to it.
- Sativa is the opposite of Indica because the strand produces more of a head high. This means that the head can feel anywhere between a tingly sensation or full blown fog. These strands can really help to focus the brain, but only if you choose the right strand and smoke the right amount.
- Hybrids are the perfect strands for new users because they tend to be less potent. They give a nice combination of a head and body high. Knowing the difference between these groups can help maximize your experience, especially during your yoga practice. Hybrids are a mixture of both Indica and Sativa.
There are several different strands that have been known to pair nicely with yoga. Most of these strands are either Indica or a Hybrid.
Granddaddy Purple is one of the most popular Indica strands and is frequently combined with yoga. It has strong relaxation properties and brings euphoria and tranquility onto the mat. It’s perfect for yoga because it relaxes the body without taking away motion or energy.
Blue Dream is another strand that works well with yoga and is good for non-seasoned smokers. Blue Dream is a Hybrid and relaxes both the mind and body. The Indica part of the strand relaxes the body while the sativa part keeps the mind alert, creating the perfect combination. These are just two examples of cannabis that are commonly used for yoga practice, but other strands might be more beneficial. Everyone is different. It is important to know how your body reacts to cannabis and yoga separately in order to create a combination that will work for you.
By knowing the differences between strands, you can better prepare for your cannabis infused yoga practice. Make sure that you use cannabis that you are already comfortable with to add to your yoga practice. That way your body can relax completely and you will enjoy practice. By understanding your own unique needs, you can pick a strain that will benefit you the most. Always remember to use responsibly!