by Jodh Kaur
Yesterday, September 23, marked the Autumnal Equinox here, in the Northern Hemisphere. On this day, night and day are equal and we transition into Autumn, the season of harvest. Spiritually, this transition offers us an opportunity for reflection and gratitude as we reap the bounty of the previous months’ work.
Whether you feel abundance or scarcity, the practice gratitude is the path to grow and expand your gifts and yourself. Identify what you are grateful for in your life and you may find yourself surprised how simple gestures can hold so much meaning.
You may even find abundance where you didn’t realize you had it.
by Jodh Kaur
I woke up this morning and looked at the weather, per my usual routine on running days. I saw rain and was determined to at least start my run before the rain began.
No such luck.
As I sat in the kitchen eating my breakfast, I heard it - thunder then lightning, wind and rain.
Sigh, well really it was a grumble, as my husband heard it from the other room. Then I heard him say, “remember, you like running in the rain and you’ll feel good and accomplished when you’re done”.
He’s right. I got out there, started running and within 5 minutes, the weather cleared and the rain stopped. It was a beautiful run. Quiet, with only a few people at the lakefront and that amazing post-rain smell in the air.
I was reminded of the Sutra: When the time is upon you, start, and the pressure will be off.
I was also reminded that while discipline is great, there is something so powerful and necessary about having support. When we have a partner, a community, a friend or family member who nudges us to make the choice that’s in our best interest, we have an ally. And what’s better than that?
At UYC, you have a community of powerful allies. Do you know that when you don’t show up for class, your allies ask about you? They do. When you are struggling with life, or your practice, when you feel like you are failing or you’re depressed - you have allies who care about you and want to support you because you are not alone in your struggle. All you need to do is show up and receive that support. Even when you don’t feel like it.
Summer is ending. The squirrels have been gathering their nuts in preparation for winter. And this is the time to get connected and build your own reserves. Begin to create your habit of being in community now so that it’s second nature by the time we see snow.
Connect with your allies and check in with each other. Wrap yourself up in the coziness of relating with others and the knowing that you are not alone.
by Jodh Kaur
According to Oxford, the definition of self-care is: The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health. The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
But, please do not wait for stress to be the catalyst to begin protecting your well-being and happiness.
Self-care. It can feel daunting (and expensive!), especially when stressed and feeling short on time. We’ve all been there… I need to create a self-care routine… I will book monthly massages, get back into running (but first, I need new running shoes), start eating healthier, take yoga classes…
And then a month later, where do we find ourselves? Often in the same place, but feeling worse about ourselves because we didn’t follow through with our plans, again.
But, don’t be discouraged. Self-care can actually be small, simple, nurturing habits that can be folded into everyday life. Remember, it’s about protecting your well-being and happiness.
Here are some suggestions to begin building self-care into your life (start with one each day - you can always add more):
These moments add up and improve the quality of your life. In taking time for yourself, you honor yourself. This practice creates more space in your life allowing you to be more joyful, engaged, energetic, productive and passionate.
by Jodh Kaur
You are a spiritual being.
The traumas and abuses you have survived, the words that have been spoken to you, about you - these things do not define you.
You are more than your experiences. You are whole and perfect as you are.
You are boundless, radiant and full of grace.
Be the example and embrace your spiritual self.
We need you and the world does too.
by Savitree + Jodh
There is a lot to food, and our relationship to it can be complicated and widely varied. It is a discipline in its own right, and is a source of both pleasure and pain. Humans have taken a life sustaining activity that can be as joyful as - if not more satisfying than - sex, and turned it into a confusing and heady ordeal. It can bring people together in community and friendship, and for those that are on "restricted diets," this glorious aspect of eating can feel isolating.
Savitree's first sadhana (personal spiritual practice) was a cooking sadhana, which she practiced first thing in the morning for 2 two hours. She made breakfast, lunch and dinner for that day. No leftovers carried over to the next. It was the most nourishing time of her life as this meditation and intention carried over into the day for her and her children, supporting the natural intelligence of their bodies.
On that note here we begin, on a different version of that. Savitree and Jodh, co-directors of Urban Yoga, get together on Tuesdays to prepare and enjoy an Ayurvedic, vegan, organic, whole foods meal. They practice a cooking meditation and eat uninterrupted by technology, sitting down, being present to every bite and to each other's company. They do take notes, however, and record the recipes of each successful meal, so that they may share them with you each week. From time to time, they will share food wisdoms as well, bringing together Savitree's Ayurvedic and Jodh's vegan experiences, with the goal of bringing balance to mind, body and spirit.
When Jodh did a 200 mile relay in MI, unsure of what was available to eat in that area, she brought this recipe with her in a cooler and mixed some spinach with it. Here, we use mixed baby greens instead of spinach, and it was delightful. This recipe simple, and it digests easily..
Total time: 35 minutes
The rice and protein:
1 cup organic basmati rice (5.6 grams of protein per cup)
1 cup split mung beans (8 grams of protein per 1/4 cup, 6 grams of fiber)
4 cups purified water
1 T organic sesame oil
Rinse the rice and beans. Combine all ingredients to a pot, cover, bring to a boil, simmer, and cook until tender (approximately 15 min)
The protein sauce:
2 T tahini (that’s 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber)
Juice from one whole lemon
1 clove of garlic paste (basically, mash a clove of garlic) (use 1/2 tsp of garlic powder if you don’t have the fresh garlic)
1/4 tsp of cayenne
1/8 cup of water
1/2 tsp of Bragg optional
Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl
1 bag of mixed greens
1 avocado, sliced
Putting it all together:
Greens on the bottom.
Rice and beans on top of greens
Drizzle on the dressing
Add to taste (optional):
By Yogi Bhajan, July 16, 1995
Bless us with our inner grace, inner strength and inner courage. Make us walk our path with dignity, divinity and absolute priority to serve, to be bountiful, beautiful, and blissful. Give us our tomorrow without sorrows and guide us, hand in hand with us, on the path of joy and happiness. Sat Nam.
by Jodh Kaur
The Alcon Blue caterpillar begins her life on the marsh gentian wildflower in Germany. Here she lives and eats until one day she walks to the end of the leaf and uses her silk thread to lower herself down to the earth. On one hand, it’s a risky move because she could be killed and eaten by insects or animals below. On the other hand, she cannot grow if she remains in one place.
The Alcon Blue is a unique species of caterpillar who emits chemicals that attract ants who carry her to their nest. Instead of eating her, they feed her. And in their nest, she grows and pupates.
On the outside of her cocoon, it looks like nothing is happening. But, on the inside there is a massive transformation taking place. The entire structure of the caterpillar is being broken down and rearranged to form the new body, legs and wings of this beautiful spotted butterfly.
Once her metamorphoses is complete, she emerges from her cocoon. Her appearance reflects her evolution. She is not out of danger, however, as the ants recognize her as an intruder and move to attack.
But they cannot harm her.
As she transformed inside her cocoon, she formed a thick coating of scales which protect her. As a result, she confidently emerges from the nest, learns to spread her wings and fly into her new life.
by Yogi Bhajan
Blessed Divine within me, around me, and in all living beings. It is thy will I must perform today, tomorrow and as long as I live and breathe. To understand Thy vastness, to understand Thy Grace, and to understand Thy power within me. As Thou dwell in me, give me the strength to be pure, graceful, radiant that I may deal with the world with kindess, compassion and care and make my body as Thy temple. Be with me as my Presiding Lord. Walk with me, talk with me, and be with me. I shall be grateful.
by Jodh Kaur
Stress can manifest in many ways from anxiously sitting in traffic knowing you will be late to an appointment, to having an argument, to paying bills, to caring for a family member or friend who is ill. These stressful events impact your gut beyond feeling sick to your stomach, nauseous or having diarrhea.
Stress hinders the nervous system, specifically the vagus nerve which is the main highway for communication between the brain and the gut. In addition, this nerve communicates with the diaphragm, helps decrease inflammation in the body, works to lower blood pressure and heart rate and helps us manage and recover from stressful and frightening events. When this crucial nerve is inhibited by stress it impacts what is happening in the gut, triggering inflammation and encouraging the growth of unfavorable bacteria which disrupts the balance of the microbiome. Conversely, stress can work in the reverse where the microbes in the gut interfere with signals to the brain creating a prolonged emotional response to the stressful event.
The good news is we have a tool that directly impacts this stress response: the breath, specifically yogic breath, and as Savitree recently wrote, your breath is your #1 ally. It is an important yet simple, natural and readily available tool that benefits us in so many ways. For example, when we engage in proper yogic breathing, we stimulate the vagus nerve which calms and soothes the nervous system and improves digestive functioning. In Kundalini Yoga, we regularly practice Breath of Fire which rapidly stimulates the vagus nerve. This powerful breath helps strengthen the nervous system, calm the mind and improve mental focus and digestion with only a few minutes of practice.
The Energizer Series uses Breath of Fire in a series of 3 exercises that can be completed in just 3 minutes. Practice this daily for 40 days to strengthen your navel point (home to digestion and your personal power), to connect powerfully into your breath, to stimulate your vagus nerve and develop a calm and focused mind.
Start today, and in 40 days, let us know how you feel. Three minutes a day is a wonderful way to create a daily practice which will help you build resilience and digest your life experiences in real time.
by Yogi Bhajan
Oh my purity, purify me in consciousness.
Oh my capacity, give my mind its purest form to recognize and serve others.
Oh my values, be gracious to all.
Oh my courage, may I be full of compassion.
Oh my intelligence, let me be kind to all.
Kundalini Yoga Quotes:
“I’d never felt anything like it; it was just an opening of energy and a feeling of such liberation.” -Marika Bethel, owner, Glowing House