• Maintaining Peace, Equanimity, and Authenticity

    I want to talk with you about what it means to maintain peace, equanimity, and authenticity in your walk in the world.

    As a yogi, it’s traditionally understood that you are held to a higher standard, which means that, as a yogi, you constantly have to tune back into yourself.  Maintaining an equanimeous mind and a compassionate open heart that simultaneously maintains the dual vows of what’s called in Sanskrit, Ahimsa, which means non-violence and truthfulness, or Satya.

    These two together will help you walk in the world, and truly live the yogi’s life. For it is not enough to only be truthful but you must also be compassionate.  And it is not enough only to be compassionate, for you must always be truthful. So, as a yogi in the world, it’s inevitable that you will come into contact with difficult situations, but you always have the benchmark of your daily practice.

    If you get on your mat everyday it will bring you back into your center, and if you don’t know how to act because you have interacted in the world or been stimulated by negativity, then the yogi’s teaching, or the yogi’s path, is to not act in anger. To not act out of jealously. To not act out of negativity, but instead, to remain calm, to redirect your mind back into the inner body until your mind maintains a calm and equanimous center.

    And only after the mind maintains a calm and equanimous center then compassionate, rightful action, that is simultaneously truthful and compassionate will be presented to you. And it will unfold almost like light shining on the path ahead.

    Continue this lesson with Kino on Omstars

     

    By Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned yoga teacher, the youngest ever teacher to be certified in Ashtanga Yoga by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, author of several yoga books, and the founder of OMstars.com

     

  • Balancing a Career and a Yoga Practice

    “I wish I had enough time for yoga.” How many times have you heard those words, or said them yourself?

    Something that I get asked about on a regular basis is how I’m able to keep the balance between a demanding career and a dedicated yoga practice. These questions come from both people that I work with, and people that I practice with. I am a medical doctor, specializing in obstetrics & gynaecology (OB/GYN), and my Ashtanga practice has me learning Intermediate Series. One thing that often prevents people from dedicating themselves to a daily practice is the perceived impossibility of fitting it into their already-crammed schedule. Certainly, before I started practicing yoga, I wondered how people had time for work, physical activities, volunteering, and socializing. These super-human individuals seemed to have more hours in the day than the rest of us mere mortals. I added yoga to my life over three years ago, from a previously sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. Having seen both sides of the coin, I can tell you that it’s not possible to invent more hours in the day. That said, it is completely possible to manage a busy career and a demanding practice.

    As the yoga practice took hold in my mind and soul, what had been a weekly exercise became a daily practice. This process evolved over the course of about a year. I noticed that the more time I committed to yoga, the less time I devoted to other things. This natural evolution in my priorities is something that is ongoing. Going out for a big night isn’t something that interests me much anymore. Neither does staying up to date on the latest episode of Queer Eye. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these things. Rather, I moved them down my list of priorities so far that they rarely happen anymore. Other things became more important: yoga, work, and a small circle of loved ones. One of the benefits of starting a physical practice from a place of inactivity is the abundance of new energy that comes along with it. So, while you might not be able create more hours in the day, you might be able to do more in the hours that are given to us. Prior to committing to a daily practice, I would often feel sluggish after work. Now, I look forward to getting on the mat, be it at home or in the shala.

    Along with working long hours, I also work unusual, irregular hours. This is something that I have learned to embrace. I get to be quite creative in my practice schedule. An Ashtanga practice lends itself well to this sort of flexibility of schedule. Did I really just say that, about the style of yoga most known for its disciplined structure? In a word, yes. However, I am forced to veer away from what tradition dictates, which is early-morning practice, 6 days a week. Evening practice suits me better, and is more sustainable for me. I often swap around moon days, which are meant to be days of rest, for other days to accommodate my schedule. Most importantly, I have a sequence that I can do anytime and anywhere, and there is power in that. If I’m in work until 9 pm, I can come home and do as much of my practice as I’m able for. If I’m doing one of my 24-hour-long, in-hospital shifts, I might get a chance to do a Surya Namaskar or two in the on-call room. Working a night shift? Get on the mat at home or in the shala in the morning.

    In addition to learning to be flexible with the times that I practice, I’ve expanded my definition of what practice is. Working in my career, I am regularly expected to be awake (and functioning!) for 24 hours in a go. This usually involves long hours standing, and doing physical work on my feet. These things naturally take a toll on my body. Some days my body is only able for the Surya Namaskar and the finishing postures. Other days, a full-power, long practice is what I need. Most days, it’s somewhere in between. In my early days of practicing Ashtanga, I would beat myself up if I didn’t have the capacity for a full practice everyday. I pushed and pushed, often to the point of injury. My type-A personality and need to achieve were something I had to confront on the mat. Learning to accept my limitations, and accept where I am any given day, has brought me a lot of peace. There will always be ebbs and flows of busy times at work and softer practices, to balance with less busy times and more energetic practices. It’s all practice!

    I’ve talked a lot about the physical practices of yoga, but that’s not all there is to yoga. Within the 8 limbs of yoga, we also have codes of conduct and personal disciplines, the yamas and niyamas. Applying these ethical guidelines to our day-to-day life is another important way of practicing yoga. I also like to think of my work as a form of karma yoga. That is, good work, done unselfishly, to benefit another, is a form of prayer. While I’ve written mostly on navigating the often-negative impact that a busy career can have on a yoga practice, there is a lot to be said for the impact that the practice has on career. In yoga practice, we are continuously being confronted by difficult situations, and are asked to sit with them. This brings up our stuff, whatever that may be. This can have manifold benefits. By unpacking our own demons, and challenging our habitual patterns of thinking, it’s natural to become more compassionate towards others. That pose that challenges us immensely might bring up anger, frustration, or sadness. We can now see that when someone at works acts in an unpleasant manner, they are really reacting to something within themselves. In knowing that, it is easier to address the negative behavior, and forgive the person. This way of thinking has changed the way I interact with colleagues and patients alike, for the better.

    I’ve also learned to extend this kindness and compassion, and what is essentially ahimsa, to myself too. Being more in tune with the body and mind has made me realize how badly I was – and often still am – abusing both in the name of work. Inadequate sleep, poor diet, less than ideal posture, negative self talk. All these things can easily happen when we put career first. However, the yoga practice continuously brings my awareness back to these habits, and challenges me to change them. Through the yoga practice, we become more resilient, and able to recover from failures. How many times have we failed on that difficult posture, only to try again tomorrow? Difficult situations arise in my line of work frequently, and being resilient is essential. Being present, empathetic, and kind in stressful situations are skills that can be learned. Being able to not become attached to the situation is often more difficult, but yoga helps us practice that. My way of approaching the yoga practice won’t work for everyone or every job. They are simply the things that I have learned over time. Hopefully something I’ve shared can help someone out there struggling to find time for the mat.

    Namaste.

    By Alison DeMaio

    Alison is a medical doctor, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology in one of Ireland’s leading maternity hospitals. Originally from the Bluegrass state of Kentucky, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences in 2007. The following year she moved to Dublin where she completed a graduate medical degree at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. In her early years of working as a  doctor, Alison experienced a great deal of back pain and stress.  Yoga became a deeply transformative tool in both her physical and emotional healing. Alison is committed to her daily Ashtanga Mysore practice, despite the demands of a busy job. She has been fortunate to practice with some world-renowned teachers, and she is currently learning the Ashtanga Intermediate Series in the traditional method. Keep in touch with Alison (@ashtangi_ali) on Instagram.

     

  • Moon Day – April 5th New Moon

    The New Moon in Aries on April 5th,  at 15°, marks the beginning of a new cycle and is especially ripe with opportunity for new beginnings. The square to Saturn means you have to try hard and really want it. There can be no short cuts to success with this new moon. This new moon will help you identify any sadness, fears, or inhibitions that stand in your way of professional success or companionship.

    One of the traditional rules of interpreting new and full moons is to analyze the ruler of the sun in the new moon, or the moon in the full moon. For the Aries new moon, first, we go to the ruler of Aries, which is, Mars in Gemini. Multi-tasking is the first key to success. Then we look to Mercury, as Mars is in Gemini and is ruled by Mercury. Mercury is in Pisces; therefore, bring your imagination when pondering the how-to of any situation. Last, we look towards Jupiter in Sagittarius (The traditional ruler of Pisces is Sagittarius). Confidence and faith, along with moving outside of your comfort zone and expanding your knowledge, are the other components to manifesting this new moon cycle.

    Consider acting on a constructive impulse and following a hunch, or taking a risk. It’s time to take action. Try something new and innovative, and go at it with enthusiasm and confidence. Be assertive without being abrasive, taking charge of our lives. Start a brand new project, and discover our courage. Aries learns through experience and action so that we might treat ourselves to a little adventure.

    During this time we learn how to discriminate between what seems essential, and what is actually necessary. Through potent Aries energy, we re-evaluate our relationship to ourselves as we have the chance to make powerful changes in our lives. This is an excellent opportunity to re-examine the truth of how we’re living, what our intentions have been, and where they need to change, or remain the same. If something seems urgent, it doesn’t mean it is important. Make solid, yet, realistic plans to set the stage for reaping the rewards from our new beginnings, as little or big as they may be.

    We can also discover the benefits of expressing ourselves with authenticity, expressing as we are, without putting on airs. We might even find ways to learn how to rely on ourselves and to be happy about doing so.  It will go a long way towards finding inner happiness when we know that we can be self-sufficient without blaming others for not helping us out. It’s a time to revitalize ourselves through the experiences that dissolve routine and involve doing something different. The new moon in Aries is about taking a risk in something that you’ve wanted to try or do.

    Mars is in Gemini, and that relates to communication with the other. Whether that’s through conversation, networking, adventures, taking pictures, or creating art together, this is the perfect time of connection. Neptune (spiritual divine love) is in Venus (earthly love), and both of these elements combine beautifully.

    It is a first-quarter square to the planets of Saturn and Pluto. These two planets have a big reputation of pushing through obstacles and demanding that we let go of what no longer serves us. Aries is square (self-assertion) to Cancer (family) and Capricorn (professional life), and it’s opposite Mars in Gemini (partnership). These aspects of the Aries new moon can also challenge our relationship dynamic with family, partnerships, and career. You might find the need to create healthy boundaries for time and space this weekend, even though initially it may be hard to speak up for yourself.

    Our other aspect is the moon square to Saturn. With this, there may be some roadblocks surrounding our new beginnings. Our visions may not get off the ground as quickly as we’d like. It could be an external authority figure, overbearing partner, a boss, kids, parents, a police officer, etc. that wants to rain on your parade. You can relax knowing that it’s just the old school patriarchal system at play that says, you have to do this, think this way, and you cannot have your way. This will pass as we are in a rare window when none of the major planets/bodies are retrograde, and things may very well swim along after this check-in with reality.

    You will see that it’s a dance of push and pull with the north node of the moon in Cancer saying, I need to have my own rules, boundaries, space, and time. The energy of Capricorn in the south node of the moon says, I have to do what someone else wants, what someone else says, and complete prior commitments.

    To bring some release, Mars in Gemini is the right place to speak your truth and have that awkward conversation. Be clear in knowing yourself, trust your instincts, and honor the direction you are being called. It could be a time of breaking old traditions, commitments, contracts, jobs, laws, rules, and to make new commitments, jobs, laws, regulations that have more room for your creative self-expression of who you are now.

    You may find that April is very busy in your world and to be productive, you need to choose what is most meaningful to do with the time and energy that you have now. Aries is a cardinal sign, and that means to put yourself first. Be sure the initiatives you start now are in alignment with who you sincerely are, and with your sense of integrity.

    As we give and take we mold and shape a new reality. It doesn’t just fall into our laps, but it’s up to us to assert, trust, speak, listen, and cooperate. Mars in Gemini is where we figure out what we want and can do for others, but also learning how to say no with kindness. Aries is asking us to trust our instinct by connection to our solar plexus chakra through right action, intention, self-identity, and vitality. Sabian Symbol (words that correspond with each of the 360 degrees of the wheel of the zodiac) for the 16th degree of Aries: Nature Spirits are seen at work in the light of sunset. 

    Keynote: Attunement to the potency of invisible forces of nature. In the light of personal fulfillment (symbol of sunset and wisdom), man may be able to establish a life-giving contact with natural forces. When this Sabian symbol reaches into the consciousness of a man seeking meaning, it should be seen as an invitation to open his mind to the possibility of approaching life in a holistic and non-rational, intuitive manner. This is the first stage of the fourth five-fold sequence of cyclic phases. It implies a call to repotentialization. What this means is, the process of, becoming like a little child. Protect the inner child so that it stays open to the magical mystery.

    Be conscious and aware of becoming familiar with your frequency. Check in with yourself throughout the day and reset when you need. See if you can raise it by thinking of something that makes you happy, look at the sky, trees, a person, or love an animal. By choosing love we not only evolve individually, but collectively and this is where we’re going, but we have to be very conscious about it. Remember the inner child as you set your intentions this day.

    Happy new moon!

    By Danielle Hicks

    Danielle Hicks is an adventurer, writer, creator, and explorer of the unknown. RYT-200hr and longtime yoga practitioner, she came to Ashtanga Yoga right before embarking on a year-long van-life journey two years ago. Danielle is on cloud nine as she is an apprentice, assisting, and guiding others in their Mysore style practice at The Yoga Shala in Orlando, Florida. A zany magnetic off-beat intuitive Danielle is learning to share and embrace her side of the inner world. Cultivation of her fruits will be gifts to share as she is on the verge of something new. To read more about Danielle’s journey go here: elfeatheryoga.com @el.feather.yoga

  • Plant-based recipes for the holiday season

    Preparing a warm and delicious meal with family and loved ones this holiday season can be a wonderful time to reconnect, spend quality time together and to catch up on the year gone past. Although this time of year can one of indulgence, there are always ways to include healthy and equally scrumptious food options! Nourishing ourselves with consciousness made food during busy times can help to ensure we stay energized and balanced. We’ve teamed up with the incredible Lee Holmes to offer you some amazing plant-based recipes for the upcoming holiday season!

    Pistachio Minted Cranberry Quinoa

    Serves 4-6

    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 zucchini (courgette), sliced

    • 1 eggplant (aubergine), cut into bite-sized pieces

    • 4 garlic cloves, whole

    • 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, for drizzling

    • Celtic sea salt

    • 270 g (91/2 oz/1 cup) cooked quinoa

    • juice of 2 lemons

    • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

    • 1 bunch of mint, leaves only, plus extra, to serve

    • 1 bunch of coriander (cilantro), leaves only, plus extra, to serve

    • 1 pomegranate, seeds only

    • 2 avocados, peeled, stones removed and sliced into wedges

    • 4 small spring onions (scallions), chopped 125 g (41/2 oz/1 cup) slivered almonds

    METHOD

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6).

    Place the zucchini, eggplant and garlic on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast for about 35 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

    Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a bowl with the lemon juice and zest and the olive oil. Combine well.

    Place in a salad bowl with all the other ingredients and serve topped with extra mint and coriander leaves.

     

    Kale, Strawberry and Avocado Salad with Speedy Jam Jar Dressing

    Serves 2-3

    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 bunch kale, chopped into slices

    • 1 whole lemon

    • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    • Pinch of CelticSea Salt

    • 1 Avocado Pitted

    • ¼ cup pine nuts

    • 1 cup strawberries washed and quartered

    Speedy Jam Jar Dressing

    • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    • 2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar

    • 1 tsp. sugar free mustard

    • ½ shallot, diced

    • Pinch Celtic Sea Salt

    • 1 TBS wheat free tamari

    METHOD

    • In a large bowl place lemon juice and olive oil and stir then massage it into kale leaves adding a pinch or two of sea salt. Keep massaging until leaves are soft and dark green

    • Add remaining ingredients and toss

    • To make the dressing whisk all ingredients together

    This recipe can be stored in the fridge in a covered container for up to 4 days.

     

    Layered Quinoa Trifle Recipe

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 100 g (31/2 oz/1/2 cup) quinoa

    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    • pinch of Celtic sea salt

    • 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) unsweetened almond milk

    • 1/2 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract

    • 6 drops stevia liquid, or 1 tablespoon rice malt syrup

    • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds

    • 2 bananas, sliced

    • 130 g (43/4 oz/1/2 cup) coconut yoghurt

    • 4 tablespoons coconut flakes 110 g (33/4 oz/1/2 cup) mixed berries

    • 1 teaspoon almond butter, melted

    • 1 tablespoon chia seeds, for sprinkling

    Method

    • Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve. Rinse with cold running water for 2–3 minutes, moving the seeds around with your hand to ensure that the seeds are well rinsed and any residue is removed.

    • Bring 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water to the boil in a large saucepan.

    • Add the quinoa, return to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to low for 12–15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.

    • Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

    • Place the quinoa in a bowl and stir through the cinnamon and salt.

    • In a saucepan over medium–low heat, warm the almond milk for 3–4 minutes.

    • Stir in the vanilla and stevia or rice malt syrup.

    • Add a couple of spoons of quinoa to four glass jars, or glasses.

    • Mix through the almond milk and follow with layers of slivered almonds, banana slices, yoghurt, coconut flakes and berries. Repeat until the jars are full, with berries as the top layer.

    • Top with the melted almond butter and chia seeds.

    By Lee Holmes

    Follower her on instagram @leesupercharged 

    Check out Lee’s website superchargedfoods.com

    Check out more plant based recipes on our Wellness channel

  • Blow your mind with Meditation

    To me, the popularity of the war-time phrase ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ seems out of place in one of the most prosperous and war-free societies in the world. In our connected, fully wired 24-7 society, it can be hard to switch off.  Our normal rhythms are easily out of sync and ‘stress’ has become an everyday word.

    As a lawyer, I remember hearing stories about how – before email – documents took days, if not weeks, to be passed around by hand, typed and re-typed with corrections handwritten in different colours – now it takes seconds to ping an email to everyone and complex contracts can be marked up overnight with tracked changes. The pace of modern life is sometimes astounding. 

    It’s easy to lose ourselves in the rush and pressures of modern life.  Meditation is an antidote; a route to perspective and calm, to navigating the hectic traffic we experience in all areas of our lives. Meditation can change how we work, it can improve our health, and it can affect how we relate both to ourselves and to others.  Beyond a mechanism for coping with stress, mediation can be a vehicle towards finding more meaning, purpose, depth and connection in our lives.

    The mind is a surprising instrument. So powerful that science has yet to understand more than the basics of how it fully functions. But then, trying to understand ourselves has always been a tough, yet valuable pursuit.

    Our minds (along with our bodies) have developed over millions of years of evolution to give us the best chances of survival in a sometimes hostile world. Our brain is rewarded with pleasure – with substances such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin – when we do something that evolution would suggest is survival-enhancing. And, of course, the other side of the coin is pain when our survival is threatened.   When we sit in meditation and train our attention, we are acting against many of the reactionary tendencies that we have developed as a result of evolution.    

    Our evolutionary tendencies have helped us to survive so far, but some of them now lead us to overreact.  We have, for example, developed a bias towards negativity, giving far more weight and attention to negative events and emotions than positive ones.  And, particularly, under stress, we overestimate and ‘dial up’ the perceived ‘dangers’ around us. The evolutionary ‘down’ that we sometimes experience after the ‘high’ of being with a partner, is designed to draw us towards that person helping us to mate and procreate. But if that evolutionary tendency is too strong in us, our neediness may get activated and end up pushing the person away. Meditation helps us to temper the reactions that evolution has set in motion, so in that sense it is going against some of our evolutionary instincts.  But maybe, that’s what’s needed for us to evolve even further.

    Previously the purview of monks and lamas, meditation is now being used by the likes of Google, hedge fund managers  and MBA students to boost their performance. Scientific research supports many health benefits of meditation mainly associated with stress reduction, and ability to focus.  Cautiously promising research in its early stages even suggests that meditation may have some effect on a cellular level on patients in remission from cancer. Further evidence is needed to confirm that. So, maybe, in terms of health and focus, meditation is giving us an extra edge. 

    Meditation affects the quality of your attention and where you place it. And, as Stanford scholar and international meditation teacher B. Alan Wallace, PhD explains in his book The Attention Revolution, ‘Our perception of reality is tied closely to where we place our attention’. What we focus on shapes our experience and the things we ignore, pale into insignificance for us. In 2012, Usain Bolt says he won the 100 meters in 2012 by concentrating on his strength on “concentrating on his strengths” (execution) rather than his weaknesses (his poor start). Meditation allows us to choose where we place our attention.  That, in turn, gives us more control over how we shape our lives.

    Meditation also helps us to navigate our emotions. Neuroscientists debate whether regions of the brain perform specific functions or whether a more interconnected view is more accurate.  It is, however, established that the amygdala (emotional centres) play a huge role in the fear response. In order to deal with the fear-causing – at an evolutionary level read ‘life threatening’ – situation, we dissociate. We stop using the logical, decision-making functions of our brains. I interviewed Louann Brizendine, neuroscientist and author of bestseller, The Female Brain. She described this to me beautifully, using the analogy of a car with the clutch being pushed in. When we are in a state of stress and fear, the gears are unable to engage with the decision-making functions of our brains.

    Of course, modern day stressful situations are not always related to mortal danger. And, in a non-life-threatening situation such as work, most of the decisions we make would probably benefit from some logical engagement! Awareness developed through meditation can help break the cycle and get you back there. 

    Meditation helps us to press ‘pause’ on our reactive patterns. It gives us perspective and choice. This allows us to be cool under fire.  In this sense, it helps to blow the patterns that have been deeply ingrained in our minds out of the water, leaving us clearer, calmer and more available for genuine meaningful connection.  Any takers?

    By Mia Forbes Pirie

    Watch Mia’s course, Intelligent Start, on Omstars

    Join Mia’s 5 day meditation challenge and see how meditating for as little as 5 minutes a day can make a difference to your day https://intelligentchange.life/five-day-challenge/ or be part of Mia’s small Facebook “Not too Perfect”  Yoga & Meditation community https://www.facebook.com/groups/379578869076090/

  • Forbidden Curry

    Dive into this incredibly delicious curry recipe with fragrant spices, and rich flavours. Warming your body as the winter season approaches, this recipe is also packed with health benefits from it’s key ingredients. Black rice is extremely high in a class of flavonoid antioxidants called anthocyanins, Black Rice is also rich in iron and, according to Chinese herbal medicine, considered to nourish and replenish your blood. Curry and Turmeric are a great choice for people that are suffering from arthritis as Turmeric itself has long been known for it’s anti inflammatory traits. 

    Ingredients

    • 1 Organic Cauliflower
    • 2 Organic Zucchini
    • 2 cups of Forbidden Black Rice (makes extra rice.)
    • 2 cups Coconut Milk
    • 1 heaping tbsp of Almond Butter
    • 2 tbsp of your favorite curry powder
    • 1 tsp Coriander Seed
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • pinch of black pepper
    • pinch of pinch himalayan salt
    • Coconut oil

    Directions

    Rice

    It is best to soak forbidden rice overnight allowing the rice to remove surface starches that cause the rice to stick together.   If this is not possible be sure to rinse well 3 – 4 times.  Place the rice into a large pot with twice the amount of water.   I usually eyeball it to look where the water line falls on the pot.  Once ready put pot on the stove with rice in it.  Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 30 – 40 mins.  When it is close to finishing I usually add a little bit of Coconut oil, dash of pink salt and black pepper.

    Mixed Veggies

    I like the simplicity of pairing two types of seasonal vegetables.  Begin with chopping the Cauliflower into smaller pieces, prepare the pan by adding a little bit of water to cover the bottom.  Add chopped cauliflower and cover on medium.  Once The cauliflower is softening up a bit, add the chopped garlic and chopped zucchini.   The zucchini will cook very quickly so time with the cauliflower.

    Curry

    Begin the curry by add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the bottom of a sauce pan.  Put on low and add 1 tsp of coriander seed.  You will here the seeds pop once this happens turn off the burner.  Allow the oil to cool down.  good thing to do now is start prepping the veggies.  Once oil has cooled poor Coconut Milk in. Allow this to heat up.  Once it is close to boil add heaping tbsp of almond butter and curry powder.  Take the heat back down to med low.  Allow this to simmer for 15 mins, stir occasionally.  Finish it with a dash of pink salt and black pepper to taste.

    Plating

    Very simple plating.  Begin with a bed of the black rice.  Next add the Cauliflower, Zucchini and garlic.  Then pour a desired amount of curry over the top.  Finish with chopped cilantro.

    Health Benefits

    Forbidden Rice 

    This medium-size heirloom rice is treasured for its delicious roasted nutty taste, soft texture and beautiful deep purple color. Extremely high in a class of flavonoid antioxidants called anthocyanins, Forbidden Rice is also rich in iron and, according to Chinese herbal medicine, considered to be a blood tonifier.  A new study shows that a spoonful of black rice bran or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice contains the same amount of antioxidants as a spoonful of fresh blueberries.

    Curry Powder

    Curry powder is a mixture of spices. It is well noted that the most powerful healing herb in the powder is turmeric which gives it a yellowish color. Curry is most known to Fight Alzheimer’s and degenerative diseases. Curcumin, the yellow pigment in curry powder is being seriously looked at by scientists as a tool that fights Alzheimer’s Disease. One of the culprits in Alzheimer’s is a dangerous plaque that debilitates victims ability to function properly. Curcumin effectively blocks this plaque, subsequently protecting the brain. It should be noted that India, a country famous for its use of curry powder in several dishes, has an Alzheimer’s rate that is four times lower than the U.S. Curry is also known to block genes that are responsible for the trigger and spread of some forms of cancer. Curry and Turmeric are also a great choice for people that are suffering from arthritis. Turmeric has long been known for it’s anti inflammatory traits.

    Coriander Seed

    In addition to medicinal properties, coriander has many qualities that benefit general, daily health. It is great for digestion, relieves gas, prevents nausea and is an excellent source of fiber. Anti-inflammatory properties not only aid in digestion as well, but also alleviate arthritis. Coriander works to detoxify the body and also protects against Salmonella bacteria. Similarly, it can be used both internally and topically to ward of allergic reactions.

    Almond Butter

    The number one health benefit of almond butter is that it is good for the heart. It is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are the type of fats that reduce levels of cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart ailments. Almond butter is a sweet and tasty dessert that will not do any damage to your blood sugar levels. In fact, it can even help control levels of blood sugar in your body by reducing the sudden increase in blood sugar and insulin which usually happens after you eat a carbohydrate-packed meal. This makes it an ideal part of the meal if you are suffering from diabetes. Oxidative stress is a common problem in today’s society. Free radicals that do cellular damage to your body are present everywhere. This is why it is important to have proper intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin E and flavonoids, which fortunately can be found in almond butter. Almond butter, thus helps protect cells from oxidative stress and reduces the risk of heart disease and other ailments associated with it.

    Cilantro

    Cilantro is most often cited as being effective for toxic metal cleansing and rightfully so, as this herb is a powerful, natural cleansing agent. The chemical compounds in cilantro bind to toxic metals and loosen them from the tissue. Many people suffering from mercury exposure report a reduction in the feeling of disorientation after regularly consuming large amounts of cilantro over an extended period. Cilantro is also antibacterial and antifungal.  It aids in lowering blood sugar levels, so it is very useful for people suffering with diabetes.  Cilantro has also been studied for it positive benefits as an anti anxiety remedy. Made as a tea or along with food, it helps reduce stomache gas and is a great option for bloating.

    Turmeric and Black Peppers synergistic effects

    Turmeric has long been studied for its anticancer properties, anti-inflammatory effects, and tumor-fighting activities known in nutrition-speak as anti-angiogenesis. The active agent in the spice is a plant chemical, or polyphenol, called curcumin. One problem with turmeric is its low bioavailability when eaten on its own.The solution is to combine with black pepper. Adding black pepper to turmeric or turmeric-spiced food enhances curcumin’s bioavailability by 1,000 times, due to black pepper’s hot property called piperine.

    By Adam Kenworthy

    Follow Adam on Instagram (@adamkenworthy) where he’s constantly posting new and exciting dishes, drinks and snacks and check out his facebook page for some more long form recipes in the meantime. We’re thrilled to be launching a full course on Omstars with Adam in the new year!

    Tune into Omstars for more recipes on our Wellness Channel

     

  • Epic stuffed ravioli lasagna with stretchy cashew mozzarella

    You guys, we did it. We had a dream, and we made that dream come true. Introducing our epic ravioli stuffed lasagna, that’s right, a lasagna stuffed with ravioli + a bunch of other goodies, and topped with a stretchy cashew mozzarella. This will not disappoint, we promise! This is one of those “vegan recipes to impress non-vegans”, and if those have a proper name please correct me haha.

    All of your dreams will come true with this ravioli stuffed lasagna!

    • Author: Sweet Simple Vegan

    • Prep Time: 25 minutes

    • Cook Time: 45 minutes

    • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

    • Yield: 9

    • Category: Entree

    • Cuisine: Italian

    INGREDIENTS

    VEGAN RAVIOLI LASAGNA

    • 18-24 vegan raviolis (We used Rising Moon Organic Garlic & Roasted Veggie Ravioli), cooked

    • 6 no-boil uncooked lasagna noodles

    • 1/2 package vegan ricotta (we used Kite Hill)

    • 1 jar oil-free marina (we used Engine 2)

    • 1 large zucchini (for about 32 1/4″ thick rounds)

    • 1 recipe vegan mozzarella* (below)

    • 3-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped small

    • Casserole baking dish (ours was 8 x 8 x 2.75″)

    STRETCHY VEGAN CASHEW MOZZARELLA

    • 1 cup water

    • ½ cup raw cashews

    • 3 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour)

    • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

    • 1 teaspoon lemon or apple cider vinegar

    • ½ teaspoon salt

    • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

    • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

    • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

    INSTRUCTIONS

    VEGAN RAVIOLI LASAGNA

    1. Cook raviolis according to package directions, then preheat oven to 350 F and grab your casserole dish.

    2. Add sauce to the bottom of the pan, then top with 2 lasagna noodles, ricotta, about 9 raviolis, about 16 zucchini rounds, and repeat until you have formed 2 layers, or as fits in your pan. Top with the vegan mozzarella, followed by more ricotta (if any remains) and fresh basil.

    3. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is slightly browned and noodles are cooked through.

    4. Remove from oven and cool for 10-15 minutes, then slice into 4 and serve!

    STRETCHY VEGAN CASHEW MOZZARELLA

    1. Soak cashews overnight, or about 8 hours, then drain and rinse.

    2. Add the cashews plus the remaining ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

    3. Pour into a medium pan over medium-high heat, and continually stir for about 5 minutes until gooey. Cook and stir for another minute to make sure it’s at the right consistency, then add atop the uncooked lasagna while warm.

    Want to make this delicious recipe alongside Jasmine and Chris? Check out their Youtube channel for more! Sweet Simple Vegan

    NOTES

    Mozzarella inspired by Vedged Out and itdoesnttastelikechicken.

    • If you don’t want to make your own mozzarella, we recommend Miyoko’s!

    By Jasmine & Chris founders of Sweet Simple Vegan

    Follow these vegan recipe creating legends on instagram @sweetsimplevegan, and get over to their website www.sweetsimplevegan.com to check out  loads of articles about veganism, recipes, nutrition and more! We couldn’t be happier to have Jasmine joining us here at Omstars, we’ll be releasing a much anticipated course with her in the new year!

    Check out our Wellness channel for more plant-based recipes

  • Your body is not a car, it’s a living vehicle

    The key to unlocking flexibility is not just practice, it’s about understanding how to speak the language of the inner body. If you practice the wrong technique over and over, chances are that you will not get the desired result. Practicing a flawed method is like driving in the wrong direction. Hitting it faster and harder will only take you that much further away from the goal. Slowing down and checking the roadmap gives you time to recalibrate your course for the right target. In yoga it’s important to remember that the target is always about the inner state. The yoga of yoga is never the pose itself. The pose is the method of experience, but it’s not meant to be your final destination.

    Every pose requires you to embark on a journey to the innermost regions of your body, mind and soul. There are subtle cues to encourage you along the right path and warning signs to discourage you from making a wrong turn. Yoga is more about learning the language that your body’s own navigation provides than it is about forcing your body into a shape. The first step in yoga is more about listening than it is about telling. You have to “meet” your body and bring your full awareness into the quite space of user the surface of the skin. Only then will be able to really hear the messages that your body sends you. There is a natural intelligence in the body and yoga has the ability to tune you into that ancient and powerful wisdom. I like to think of the body like a car that has been designed by a master engineer. Your body has its own GPS and it comes equipped with everything it needs to accomplish its mission. It has been perfectly formed, but it requires care and the right type of sustenance. Flexibility is evidence of a well-oiled and cared-for machine. At the same time, the body is so much more than just a car. The vehicle of the body is alive itself, so it’s more like a partner on the journey than a static piece of machinery. In order to truly find freedom in the practice you and your body have to walk together in unity as friends and learn to speak the same language.

    So often we treat the body as an adversary and blame it for all our problems. We think our vehicle is flawed because of its size, shape or age. And truly, yoga poses can frustrating, sometimes painful and even lead to injury if performed wrong. The deeper work of the yoga practice is about finding a way to practice while avoiding all the damaging pitfalls of unnecessary pain and traumatic injury. But despite our best efforts it’s not always possible to travel the inner roads with absolute ease and flow. Sometimes you hit a traffic jam. Tightness and stiffness in the body feel like congestion. Everything is blocked and there’s no way forward. Sometimes you can find an alternate route, but most often you just have to sit there and be patient. Honking your horn is a fruitless endeavor only certain to annoy everyone around you, just like getting mad at your body for it’s lack of flexibility is a dead-end. Ramming your car into the car ahead of you is criminal and injurious, just like jamming your body into a pose that your body isn’t ready for is also a kind of assault that leads to pain and suffering. So, what can do you? Sit there. Observe. Practice patience, kindness and tolerance. Focus on the breath. Remain equanimous. Breathe. Surrender. Have faith. When the traffic jam is over it will be over. When body is ready to open it will. Sometimes there are good reasons for traffic just like sometimes there are good reasons that the body isn’t full released. All you can really do is make friends with your body and accept where you are on the journey today.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Join Kino for Heart centered meditations on Omstars

     

  • Raw Vegan Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie

    This was so good I think it was almost criminal. Left over chocolate has never been a problem for me. But if you’ve been wondering what to do with the little bit of left over chocolate, say  from my peanut butter protein balls, then this here, is the ticket.  A simple, healthy, protein enriched chocolate smoothie that will knock your socks off and make you want to drink both of them immediately.

    Recipe for Raw Vegan Chocolate Protein shake

    No cows were squeezed, no sugar was imbibed and no diet rules broken in the making of this quick breakfast to go.

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups cold filtered water

    • 2 -2 1/2 frozen bananas

    • 2 scoops vanilla or chocolate raw vegan protein powder (I used Sunwarrier)

    • 1 tbs raw cacao powder

    • 1 cup coconut yoghurt (make your own using the recipe from my course on omstars)

    • Ice cubes

    • 3 tbs Homemade chocolate warmed to liquid (to serve)

    Method

    Blend all ingredients except the chocolate sauce. The quantity should measure 4 cups on the side of your jug. Add ice cubes to make up the difference in volume. Blend until slushy, stopping to mix with a wooden spoon. Pour a little chocolate down the sides of the mason jars for garnish but reserve most of the chocolate sauce for the top. Pour the frapped smoothies into the mason jars and drizzle on the chocolate sauce. Because the chocolate has been made with cacao butter it will harden into a nice top which you can crack off and eat.

    So delicious. Seriously, stop everything and savour this smoothie to make the moment last.

    By Natalie Prigoone

    Follow her on instagram @thegreatuncooking and visit her website thegreatuncooking.com for more raw food recipes or create incredible dishes, smoothies, dips, snacks and more alongside Natalie on Omstars.

    Learn more recipes with Natalie on Omstars

  • Yoga for Parents

    We are a product of our environments.  We are a product of our parents.  Monkey see, monkey do.  What are your little monkeys observing in the day to day?  Posture is no little thing on the list of providing our children with happy, healthy and safe lives.  But, if we are constantly revolving around a sedentary life, how can we lead by example and show them how to move through this life with healthy posture?

    Since the internet and cell phones became a household and even an individual norm things have shifted, quite literally.  We sit too much, in cars, on the couch, at school and at work.  We are sitters. For the sake of our children, we need to become movers and shakers again.  For the sake of ourselves, we need to change this idea of “back breaking” work and do things with posture and muscular support that allows us to work hard without “breaking your back.”

    Two quick steps in the right direction:  

    1 Sit more. Wait, what?! Let me explain: Not on a chair, not on a couch, not with a screen and not with a slouch.  Dr. Suess rhymes aside, we need to squat.  We need to squat and work the posterior chain that gets neglected.  The backside of the body needs more attention and the spine needs that support. Six packs are pretty and all, but you know all the sayings: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Beauty is only skin deep.  Bark with no bite.  

    2 Posture, posture, posture.  This is where having a Yoga practice gives you an upper hand.  Practice at home and practice in front of your kids.  Their incredible human brain will process and digest what they are seeing.  I’ve always said it is no wonder every mother and father thinks that their child is a genius…humans are amazing!  Lead by example and show them correct posture.  Telling them to sit up straight means very little if they have never seen it before.

     If the above is a rant about the asana of Yoga then below is my little rant about the awareness of Yoga.  

     Processing information is hard, especially when you are learning rapidly, growing rapidly and experiencing heightened emotions that are relatively new.  You might think I’m talking about you at this point, but I’m actually referring to children.  When you stare at them in disbelief because they are reacting with such intensity, remember that it is all very real to them and they are experiencing those emotions inside no matter how irrational it seems to an adult.  It is very overwhelming and takes age and time to process in a more socially acceptable manner.  I know this from personal experience.  I too was once a child.  Seriously though,  often times reflection can be the easiest path to compassion.  You don’t just get off the hook as an adult either, this is a life long battle of thinking before you act or even thinking about how you act.  Yoga teaches us patience and that life itself is a practice.  One more time:  Life itself is a practice.  Practice makes progress.  Practice what you preach.  Lead by example.  Awareness.  I guess I was talking about you after all.

    By Holly Fiske

    Join Holly and Omstars for her #upsidedowniscomingtotown Instagram Challenge starting December 3rd, follow her on instagram @upsidedownmama and check out her website www.upsidedownmama.com to learn more about Holly and her beautiful clothing line!

    Watch this space for the release of Holly’s course Upside Down Yoga