New Series: Chakras

chakraseries

I’m excited to announce a new series here on the blog! This is going to be a little different from the usual content here… In addition to being a holistic health coach, I am also a yoga instructor. Most people know about the physical benefits of yoga: flexibility, strength, balance. Yoga also helps to balance your subtle body – or your bodies energy.

chakras_map-svgThe work chakra means “wheel” in sanskrit. Chakras are energy wheels in our body. We have 7 main chakras that run along our spine, from the base of our spine to the crown of our head. These energy centers are both separate and connected – meaning if one energy wheel becomes stuck, it can affect the others. Practicing yoga can help to balance your chakras.

Each chakra is associated with a physical, emotional and spiritual part of our body. Additionally, chakras have a sound, color and natural element association. There are also foods that nourish certain chakras.

Ok, so let’s get into it. Each month I’ll be writing about a different chakra. Today, I’ll be talking about the first chakra – also call the Muladhara or root chakra.

muladharachakra

The root chakra is located at the very base of your spine. The root chakra gets to the root of who we are, our foundation and our basic survival. It’s associated with feelings of belonging, acceptance, safety and feeling grounded. It’s element is earth. It’s color is red and its sound is “LAM.”

Yoga Poses

Different yoga poses can activate certain chakras. Here a few poses related to your root chakra.

Mountain Pose
This pose activates Muladhara energy like to no other, as you literally are standing grounded with 2 feet on the earth with a strong foundation. Stand tall and lift all 10 toes off the ground, and slowly lower them down. Close your eyes. Lift up from the inner arches of your feet, and feel a line of energy running up your legs to your hips to the base of your spine. Turn your inner thighs slightly inward and lower your tailbone down. Scrunch your shoulders up to your ears, and widen them down your back. Turn the palms of your hands forward. Balance the crown of your head directly over your pelvis. Focus on your breath, and visualize the color red.

Malasana Pose
From mountain pose, widen your feet to at least as wide as the short side of your yoga mat. Bring your hands to heart center. Slowly squat down, bringing your tailbone towards the ground. With your palms together, use your elbows to resist into your knees to help lengthen your front torso. Close your eyes, and stay here for 10 deep cycles of breath. This pose also brings us down to earth, and is the natural way humans used to sit. In Western culture, we sit in chairs all day and then suffer from tight hips and lower back issues. This is a good pose to practice when you want to feel calm and grounded.

Savasana Pose
Lay on your back, extend your legs and arms long, and completely release into your mat. Close your eyes. Feel an energetic exchange between you and the earth. The earth is here to support you. The phrase of the Muladhara chakra is right to be here. So just be, here in savasana, completely relaxed, for at least 5 minutes.

Nourishment through Nutrition

You can also nourish chakras through the foods you are eating. The root chakra is all about feeling grounded, so root vegetables are a great way to eat to connect with this chakra. Here are some recipes to try:

Mashed Sweet Potato

Fall Slaw

Indian Lentil Cauliflower Soup (click link then scroll down)


New Recipe: Spicy Red lentil Tomato Sauce over pasta

wordswag_1483989107153Vegan, Gluten-free
Serves 3-4

Gather:
1/2 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar marinara sauce*
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 package of gluten free pasta
Optional: vegan parmesan cheese and fresh spinach

Make:
Add the red lentils and water to a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium low for a simmer. Cook lentils to preferred doneness – about 20 minutes. You want the lentils to have a slight bite and not be mushy.

Heat a large a large skillet pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion and carrots. Saute until onions are tender. Add the rest of the spices and the marinara and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer on medium low, and simmer for about 10 minutes. You can add the red lentils whenever they are done.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

To plate, you can serve this over a bed of spinach to get some more greens into your diet. The heat of the sauce will wilt the spinach. Cover your plate with spinach, then add pasta, then sauce and top with optional vegan parmesan cheese. Mangia!
*Try to find a marinara without any added sugar. I really like the Whole Foods 365 Fat Free Marinara Sauce as its both sugar and oil free.


Healthy Habits for 2017

wordswag_1482168468974It’s a new year, and for most of us the time for a health reboot! After the indulgences of the holidays, we are ready to focus on eating more nutritiously, maybe lose a few pounds, get back into a consistent exercise routine, and bring more healthy habits into our lives.

Here are some healthy habits to incorporate into your lifestyle for the healthiest you this year!

Stay hydrated. Drink hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. The water rehydrates you after your night’s rest, and the lemon juice alkalizes your body, aids in digestion, and gives you a boost of vitamin C.

Get enough sleep – at least 7-9 hours each night.  It is estimated that as much as 70% of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation. Our mental, emotional and physical performance suffer when we don’t get enough sleep. Some resulting problems from lack of sleep include weight gain, diabetes, memory loss and depression.

Start a daily meditation practice. There is now scientific proof that meditation helps with… well pretty much everything! A happy body has a calm, focused mind, and no doubt meditation can help with that. Try taking a meditation class, or download the Headspace or Calm apps for free guided meditations.

Get more greens into your diet. Greens are the most nutritious food, and most people don’t eat them on a regular bases. They are loaded in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K.  Easy ways to get more greens into your life are in a green smoothie, salad or throw some greens into a soup or sauce.

To really reboot your health, do a cleanse. If you’re really feeling icky after all of the indulgences of the holidays, consider doing a cleanse or detox for a few days, or even up to a week. It can be as simple as just eating clean, whole foods for a few days. Or, you could replace one or two meals with a fresh juice or smoothie. If you’re looking for a guided detox, I have one available here.