Eat to cope

Edible Yoga? Well, kinda! Introducing, Adaptogens!

By : Nicki Formica

When you’re under stress, the stress hormone cortisol is pumping—no, raging! We need cortisol, don’t get me wrong, but as with “all things in moderation” this is not an exception. We are a a nation are under chronic amounts of stress which skyrocket our cortisol and lead to a whole mess of issues….

Back in the old days (way, waaaaay back) normal meant our cortisol spiked while under temporary stress in a “fight or flight” type response, and then, for it to fall back to normal levels once the stressor was alleviated. For instance, while your great great great great grandpa was hunting for food or trying not to be someone else’s dinner!

In 2014, our stress can last for hours, days, weeks or even YEARS ; Heartbreak, Credit card debt, being overworked—This is a recipe for disaster for our health and inevitably has devastating consequences on our bodies!

(By the way, Cortisol is also known as the “aging hormone”, I really don’t think I need to explain that! Chronically elevated Cortisol can affect every physiological and psychological system)

-An inability to lose weight- (think pesky belly fat that won’t budge)

-Hormonal imbalance 

-Colds

-Sleep disruption

-Fatigue

-Cancers

-Anxiety and Depression

-Autoimmune diseases (ex : IBS, Colitis, Chrones, Alzheimers)

-Thyroid issues

 

 

….all from too much Cortisol?!

Yep.

So here’s where adaptogens come into the picture. Adaptogens, being the name because they help you “adapt” to whatever situation might be stressing you out. Sounds like magic, does it not?

These healing botanicals aid your body in balancing and recuperating via your adrenal system, while helping you properly respond to stressors. And by stressor, it could be anything from a bad break up, to battling the flu.

Adaptogens normalize your physiological functions, and while it might be subtle and take a bit for them to help you, these medicinal foods have been used and trusted for centuries. Adaptogens work to calm your nerves but also help you access more energy, a double whammy that coffee can’t promise. Your body receives better access to oxygen and thus strength and endurance, and it eliminates toxic by-products with ease. If you notice nothing else, it will be that of a sense of well-being and mental clarity!

 



The following is a very concise list of what I deem to be the most accessible adaptogens. *all of these are available in pill form, and if you plan on seeking them out, please note that I am not a doctor and to speak with yours before taking herbal supplements*

1. Maca – “Peruvian Ginseng” a powder made from a crushed root native to Peru, contains 20 amino acids and 7 essential amino acids and fiber, phytonutrients vitamins and minerals. It also contains 5x the amount of protein as a potato and is perfect for smoothies. Nourishing to the endocrine system and can help you balance your hormones. BMC complementary and Alternative Medicine 2006 found it effective for anxiety and depression in post-menopausal women.

2. Licorice root – Beyond being a candy flavor, licorice root has been known to help with SO many ailments including brain fog, depression, mood swings, circulation and energy. I personally take this in pill form daily.

3. Ginseng – Claimed as the most effective and potent adaptogen, ginseng also works to boost fertility and regulate blood sugar levels. Additionally, its been known to have anti-depressant effects and aid in mental clarity.

Here’s a broader list for those who are curious :
-Holy Basil
-Ashwaganda
-Astragalus
-Rhodiola Rosea
-Eleuthero Root

Introducing Yogasphere’s Program – “Yoga for Stress Free Living” by Laura Rothstein

Restore~Renew~Relax~Rebuild

Over the past several years, Yogasphere’s community has grown in many areas. One particular modality  that we felt needed  focused attention has to do with living life in a manner that was more stress free,  less anxious, rested, restored and peaceful.    We are very exciteyogasphere2014d to introduce our “Yoga for Stress Free Living”  a la cart program.  We have consolidated our current offerings that are in line with this initiative and require no prior knowledge of yoga.   You can find “Yoga for Stress Free Living” on our website under a menu item titled  “De-stress”.    These offerings include, Gentle classes, Meditation, Restore and Renew along with specialty workshops like the popular ” Healing Stress and Trauma through Yoga” with Cathy Frank.   Classes and workshops will be added on a regular basis.

Of course all yoga when practiced brings you to that space of quiet mind through breath and movement,  however these particular offerings focus more on the  relaxing, healing, restorative and gentle  qualities  of Yoga.   Our intent is to create community within our community of people working through transitions, life events or those who just need a moment  to rejuvenate.

Please take a moment and visit our website at  www.yogasphere.net and click on menu item “de-stress”.   Whether you are having a tough day or week or possibly dealing with a challenging life experience, we hope we can provide a safe haven to restore, renew, relax and rebuild.

“Yoga for Stress Free Living”  classes and workshops will be offered at our Newtown and Doylestown Locations.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti – Laura

 

 

Yogasphere Doylestown Grand Opening Open House and Donation Classes – Sunday Oct 5th

Please join us for the Grand Opening of Yogasphere’s Doylestown (Dtown) Location on Sun, Oct 5th from 10-2pm! Come and meet some of our teachers and staff and enjoy light refreshments.  We will be also offering 2 donation only classes ($5 suggest donation) and highly suggest preregistration through the links below!    Please take a look at our regular Doylestown Schedule which begins Monday Oct 6th.

Grand Opening Open House

  • Yogasphere – DTown
  • Address – 739 North Easton Rd Doylestown, Pa, 215-885-6130
  • Sunday, Oct 5th
  • Time 10-2pm

Grand Opening Donation Only Classes

  • Yogasphere – DTown
  • Address – 739 North Easton Rd Doylestown, Pa, 215-885-6130
  • Sunday, Oct 5th
  • 10:30am All Levels with Yogasphere Co-Owners  and Senior Teachers Laura and Elle   Register here
  • 12pm Gentle with  Senior Teacher Cathy Frank  Register here

With the addition of our DTown Location, Yogasphere offers over 70 classes per week in addition to workshops/special events and a very successful and unique 200 Hour and 500 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training.   Please check our our website for details on all of our locations and offerings at www.yogasphere.net

 

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti – Laura and Elle

 

 

 

 

Yogasphere’s 3rd Bucks County Location and 2014 -2015 200 HourTeacher Training by Laura Rothstein

We are so thrilled and honored to be opening our 3rd Yogasphere Location in Doylestown, Bucks County Pa.  Grand Opening will be sometime Sept/Oct 2014 and we will be offering a full schedule of Vinyasa, Gentle, Restorative and prenatal.   Yogasphere students will be able to use their  Universal Class Cards and Universal Unlimited 1 month pass  at all 3 locations or their Original Unlimited 1 month pass  at both Newtown and Doylestown,   Together, all the three locations will be  offering  over 75 classes per week!   We have heard over and over that stepping into Yogasphere feels like a second home.  Without a doubt, this feeling is due to our incredible and dedicated teachers and students who offer continued support and love.  Elle and I are incredibly grateful to all of you.

We are also so excited about our next Yogasphere’s  200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certification 20140520_yogasphere-96which begins October 2014.  Our distinctive Teacher Training  program is designed for students interested in a thorough, invigorating exploration of the practices of yoga, which includes asana, meditation, pranayama, philosophy and more. Upon successful completion of the requirements for this program, students will be eligible for certification by Yoga Alliance at the 200 Hour Level.

This training explores and strengthens the body and mind, and is taught by certified, experienced teachers from the Yogasphere staff. Our program provides a rich and profound learning experience from which balanced, radiant teachers naturally emerge.

If you would like more information please contact Laura Rothstein at Laurayogasphere@gmail.com or Elle Kaplan at Elleyogasphere@gmail.com.   We will be happy to meet with you in person or via phone to discuss and answer any questions you may have.

Jai Ma! – Laura and Elle

 

~lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu – bhakti, bhav, maitri and compassion

This beautiful sanskrit chant elegantly embodies maitri (loving kindness) and compassion.  According to Buddhist teachings these qualities are limitless and intrinsic in each of us. Bhakti (devotion) yoga expressed thru singing(chanting)  mantra and cultivating bhav (divine atmosphere) in my experience can begin to unlock the potential we all hold to soften our hearts and move from love and compassion.  Bhav is a direct connection to universal consciousnesses where our blessings that all beings be happy and free from suffering(loving kindness and compassion) can be received and felt by those around the world who are in need.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”  translation by Sharon Gannon Jivamukti Yoga

Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu by Girsh

Bodhichitta – Awakened Heart, Open Mind

 

My oldest child, Alanna,  is leaving for college this month.  She is ready and I am beyond happy and excited for her.   However, I cannot deny that mixed with joy is a  quality of sadness threaded throughout this process of letting go.   Alanna is leaving the nest,our nest.  Her world will expand immensely as she meets new people and explores amazing opportunities.  I sit at times breathless with the realization that everything will feel different and look different at home.    Comfort comes with the knowledge  that I am not alone.    There is a kindred spirit  throughout our community of all those who have sent their children, nieces, nephews off to preschool, camp, college etc..     The essential teaching of Bodhichitta is available in this situation as well as in all others.   At any time we have a choice to soften our heart and move with grace and openness  or to  harden our heart and shut down in fear.

My teacher, Parvathi Nanda Nath, taught me that  if your heart is broken enough times, it will crack wide open revealing the rawness of genuine sorrow…a feeling of connection  to all who have ever loved, all who have ever lost.   This teaching of compassion truly resonated with me and from here my interest in understanding how to awakenbodhichitta bodhichitta began.    Parvathi  often referenced  Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, author, and Tibetan meditation master and encouraged me to study Pema’s teachings.

Bodhichitta, the awakened heart, is accessible to all of us.  It is often experienced as an expansive feeling of deep  connection to something much greater than our individual self.  Bodhichitta is also known as the “soft spot ” of the heart.  This tender and vulnerable “soft spot”  of the heart  exists in all of us, but is often shielded by walls we have put up due to  past painful experiences.  These walls protect us from getting hurt.   Openings or cracks  in the walls begin to appear because of our inherit desire to love and care about others.   Opening the heart and awakening compassion is possible if we can find these cracks in the walls, and come into contact with our “soft spot”  and move from tenderness and love rather than from fear.    The knowledge that we are not alone  whether in suffering or joy and this feeling of shared humanity can be experienced more fully as our capacity for love, compassion and joy expand without boundaries.

“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.”
Pema Chodron

 

There are several practices available to help cultivate bodhichitta including the Loving Kindness meditation ( see Dec 21012 blog), Tonglen and Compassion practice.   Pema Chodron  book ” The Places that Scare You” offers several practices that support awakening Bodhichitta.   To learn more about Pema Chodron  please visit www.pemachodronfoundation.org

Namaste – Laura

 

 

 

 

Glimmers of Awakening by Laura Rothstein

I remember my first glimmers of awakening well.  I was about 8yrs old staring at my image in a mirror.  Questions that once seemed  answerable were suddenly vastly deep and bigger than my own individual self.  Who am I? What am I?  Do I even exist? What is this body?  What is skin?   I remember feeling like I was at the edge of cliff and the fear of taking one more step forward and falling into the void brought me right back to my reality.

Another faint but luminous memory of a similar experience occurred a short time later.    “Horton Hears a Who” was on t.v. and I absolutely fell in love with Horton and the whole idea of an entire universe/world living on that small dust ball.   The way Horton fiercely protected that dust ball because he alone knew about the precious sentient beings existence on this tiny speck of dust was mesmerizing.   Questions once again rushed through my mind… What if we are actually living on a dust ball being carried around by a magnificent elephant?  What if every dust ball was a self contained universe or world?  Again, the feeling of knowing that I was part of something much greater than my individual self filled me up  and overwhelmed me.  That fear took over and jolted  me right back to what I knew was safe.  ( As a side note, since then I have come to believe that Dr. Seuss was a Tantrika and Horton is actually Ganesh)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my dear teacher Parvathi Nanda Nath has taught me that all of us  have had glimmers of awakening which often take place during our early years of adolescents. A time when we are still somewhat unconditioned in our thoughts and actions and open to possibilities.    Thankfully,  having these precious moments of awakening is much like riding a bike.  Once we have experienced it, dropping back into that space is very accessible.   Coming back to this “glimmer of awakening” is a beautiful place to begin a meditation, asana practice , walk in the park etc….  with the possibilities of revealing  paths of deeper connection  to loved ones and all sentient beings.

So perhaps take time to reflect and find when you felt that personal awe inspiring “glimmer of awakening”.   Drop into the space and then see what arises.   Om Shanti Shanti Shanti!  Namaste – Laura

Weeds to Flowers by Laura Rothstein

This morning in class, Carrie Robb, read a beautiful poem during shavasana about perspective.    One of the verses read ” A change in perspective is all anyone needs so go and change.  Make flowers out of weeds.”   jarring a precious childhood memory of mine.

I remember my First Holy Communion vividly.  After months of preparation, the anticipation was almost to much to bear. I couldn’t wait for the service but was equally excited to wear my beautiful white gown and veil.  Yes, even at the young age of 7, my inner fashionista was brewing.

My mother, Setsuko Muraki, was a single mom raising three young children alone since the death of my father 6 yrs earlier.  I would be wearing the beautiful lace shift dress with the white satin bow placed at the heart center along with the simple lace veil that my mother had made my sister 2 years earlier.   My only request for my special day was the possibility of buying new white patent leather shoes.   We only had black patent leather shoes that my mother had bought for my sister on sale for her first communion.   Sensibly, my mother did not grant my request as there was just not enough money in the budget.  I have to admit, I was more than bummed.  The thought of my angelic pure white  outfit put together with  black shoes was not appealing.  But alas, I understood and when the day arrived I donned my beautiful outfit, black patent leather shoes and all.mom2

My mother, sister, brother and I piled into our car and headed towards Blessed Sacrament Church.   I remember asking my mother where my flowers were that all the children were required to bring as an offering to the Blessed Mother.  Raising three young children and working full time in a country that largely considered her a foreigner was exhausting to say the least.  Inevitably something had to give.  There was a silence  and then without missing a beat my mother pulled over to the side of the road in front of field filled with what she called wild flowers.   She ran out in her dress to the field and proceeded to pick a bunch of beautiful wild flowers.  When she got back to the car I remember her handing them to me, ants and all.  I sat there shocked, anxiety began to flood my body.  Not only would I be the only girl with black patent shoes, but I was bringing “weeds” as flowers to the Blessed Mother.   But mom remained joyful and excited.  So my mood shifted and my perspective changed.  I thought to myself how many times we passed that field and each time my mom pointed out the beautiful flowers growing in the wild.   They were flowers, they just weren’t store bought or grown in a garden.  They were growing wild in God’s garden.

When we arrived at church, we quickly walked down to join my classmates and their families. I noticed all of the lovely flouncy dresses, tiaras and satin gloves worn by most of my classmates.  Of course I noticed their clean white patent leather shoes and beautiful bouquet of flowers.   I remember at that moment feeling  happy and alive until I heard  a couple of the  mothers and their children whispering “What’s wrong with them, they are offering weeds to Mother Mary”  My heart tightened and a sinking feeling enveloped my body.   At that moment, I glanced up to my mother who was standing next to me.  Surely she heard what the others had said, but there she stood looking down at me smiling, regal, beautiful and radiating love for me and everyone around us.    It was almost as if time stood still.   When I glanced up, her strength and love embraced me and I knew in an instant I had nothing to fear and everything to love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backdrop of Stillness by Laura Rothstein

During my trip to India, I found the people of this precious country  deeply rooted and connected to this ever present and comfortable background of perfect silence and space. Things at first to me appeared, chaotic… thousands of people, taxis, little rickshaws, street markets all played into my senses being heightened and activated upon arrival. But within hours, I too felt myself slip effortlessly into this background of stillness and ease…a sense of being comfortable and content.   Amongst all the energy and activity surrounding me, I felt like I was  flowing with the universe and my perspective shifted.

Often in class, I refer to a backdrop of stillness that exist but is overlooked and easily forgotten due to our hectic and technology laden modern western society lifestyle. When we do access this expansive and quiet space a clearer perspective arises and often what we need to do(skill in action) in any given situation becomes apparent.   When we get quiet through practice  and slide into this backdrop of pure peace, our awareness is heightened so the “less obvious” is revealed which is often the root of our pain or on the  flip side the source of our joy.   Releasing  or moving through suffering and/or manifesting more joy becomes more attainable  once the underlying “source”  becomes clear with a fresh perspective.

So how do we access this back drop of stillness and  perspective  – Following are 3 method that I have found to be  practical.

  • Meditation – Sit quiet for 5 minutes a day, focus on the the inhale and exhale.  Slowly, start increasing the amount of time sitting.   Some days you may sit longer than others.   A consistent practice of any duration will help clear and quiet the mind and open the window to higher level of consciousness and wisdom.
  • Yoga Asana class – Sitting the thinking mind down and coming back into the body with breath and movement for 60- 90 minutes 2 to 3 times a week  allows us the opportunity to stay full present in midst of movement and activity.   This practice transfers off the mat easily.  Being fully present with family and friends, noticing and appreciating life as it unfolds, holding and placing our attention moment to moment on what we value are just some of the benefits I have experienced through a committed asana practice.
  • Explore nature – Have you ever noticed that when you walk through the forests, there is this subtle vibration of pure stillness.   Nature is the perfect backdrop, the more time you spend immersed in it’s beauty and prana, the more positive effects on your body, mind and spirit.

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”
Pema Chödrön

Namaste and Om Shanti – Laura

 

Loving Kindness Meditation – Metta Meditation by Laura Rothstein

Loving kindness or Metta along with compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity are the four kinds of love  in traditional Buddhist teachings. These qualities of love reside in the hearts of all beings. Unlocking their potential thru Metta Mediation is a beautiful practice that is easily accessible to individuals seeking to develop boundless love and offerings towards self and others. The practice of Loving Kindness Mediation can support bodhichita, the awakened heart, where love, joy, compassion saturate body, mind and spirit.  If our emotions are shaped by our thoughts, then the practice of Metta may help our overall well being and the well beings of others.  What a beautiful holiday gift we can give ourselves and others!

I offer this practice to you 2 ways.  A seated practice which can take anywhere from 10 minutes or more and the “on the spot” micro practice which can integrate into your daily life.

Seated Metta  Practice-

Find a comfortable seat with your head, neck and trunk in a radiant long line. Place your dominant hand into you less dominant hand with palms face up, tips of thumbs lightly touching.  Softly close your eyes. Drop into your natural rhythm of breath for several minutes

1) Take a moment to feel how you feel without any judgement. Notice what arises.  Just notice.  Offer yourself the following blessing.

  • May I be happy and free
  • May I  have enough to eat and a safe place to sleep
  • May I be free from danger and harm

2) Bring to mind someone you love.  Connect to their energy and their presence. It maybe useful to visualize this individual sitting in front of you.  Again, offer this person the following blessing.

  • May you be happy and free
  • May you have enough to eat and a safe place to sleep
  • May you be free from danger and harm
3)  Next bring to mind someone you see around but have no real relationship .  Someone you  feel neutral about.  Connect to their presence.  It may be helpful to visualize them in a setting  that you might see them in like the grocery store, pick-up at kids school etc… Again offer this person the following blessing.
  • May you be happy and free
  • May you have enough to eat and a safe place to sleep
  • May you be free from danger and harm
4) Next bring to mind someone you have negative feelings about, someone you “don’t like”.  C onnect to their energy and presence.  Again offer this person the following blessing
  • May you be happy and free
  • May you have enough to eat and a safe place to sleep
  • May you be free from danger and harm
5) See all three individuals and yourself receive these blessings  and send blessings out to all sentient beings.  Linger in the stillness and stay in the fullness of your being.  Slowly open you eyes. Hari om  tat sat.  May  it be so.
Micro Metta  Practice- 
One of my greatest lessons I have learned from my teacher Parvathi Nanda Nath is the offering of “micro” or “on the spot” practices.  Integrating  and bringing love into all aspects of my daily life has been one of the most spirtual and rewarding experiences for me .   A secret weapon that brings me back to what is important time and time again. The practice of Metta can be done “on the spot ” by simply bringing your full awareness to a person, animal or situation and sending out a blessing that can be as simple as ” May you be happy and free” or what resonates from the heart at that moment .  Hari om tat sat.  May it be so.
Namaste and infinite blessings to you and your loved ones this holiday season – Laura