SATTVA Yogis Off the Mat and into the cOMmunity

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YEG's Homegrown: Boocha 

Sitting at a picnic table with a fresh latte, I got to chat with this month's featured SATTVA yogis, Byron Hradoway and Jen Darling about their new and blooming kombucha company, Boocha which officially launched on the May long weekend.

In March of this year, the duo came up with the idea of making, bottling, and selling their own kombucha creation in a spur of the moment. They’ve been drinking kombucha for a long time but decided that instead of continuously purchasing the drink, they would create their own. Which is quite common here in Edmonton, but they went a step further and decided to start sharing it with the world.

“With a million plus people here in Edmonton, you’d think there’d be something local to offer. A lot of people are making it at home, but we’re the first to actually take it to market” said Byron. It’s true; Boocha is the very first YEG based Kombucha brand to hit the streets! Currently, the only spots that you can purchase their brand are at the 104th street Downtown Edmonton Market on Saturdays and at the U of A Farmers Market every Thursday.

As Byron and Jen have been practicing regularly at the Sattva School for past 2 years and have been active within our community, their Boocha has become a growing success and an absolute hit with our teachers and students!  Their creativity and brewing talent blew us away when they were able to turn even a batch of freshly picked Saskatoon berries into a delicious custom kombucha blend for our very own, Kevin Gaudet!

With the practice of yoga and health consciousness going hand-in-hand, kombucha has made its way into the digestive health regime of many yogis.  Practice yoga. Eat right. Drink kombucha. Byron added, “Boocha is definitely an alternative to soda with the carbonation and flavours; you can drink it to get a third of the sugars compared to a can of pop. Realizing the benefits of the probiotics and different digestive enzymes you won’t get anywhere else, why wouldn’t you love it?”

We are definitely loving it- so much so that we are very excited to announce that we have become an official Boocha stockist and will be stocking their signature and seasonal blends within the next couple weeks! 

Seeing Jen and Byron grow and develop not only their business but also their yoga practice has been inspiring and exciting to witness. We couldn't be more proud of the shining talent that is thriving within our community, and we can't wait to share their Boocha with you!

Written by: Carolyn Dickson

Committing to your Temple: 2 Recipes for the SATTVA Fall Cleanse

Summer is dreamy late nights—the sky rimmed in light, cold sips on sun-drenched patios, trips to the mountains, and the sweet release in our bodies as we embrace against warm winds. When fall arrives, we’re never ready. We want more of the action, the revelry, the charcuterie, the sun, free skin, the smell of blooms. But then fall gets here and we’re suddenly enchanted by the slow-down, the warmer blankets, comfier clothes, and the much-needed rest. In fall, we ground back into our lives and, at SATTVA we enhance the season with a cleanse, sinking into this restorative season of life. To that end, we present you with 2 recipes, one fast, one slow, to inspire your exploration of the sattvic diet and reintroduce rest from the inside out.

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CILANTRO CASHEW CREAM SAUCE

A simple staple, this sauce can be easily added to a variety of dishes during a cleansing season, and takes just a few minutes to make; it is the perfect substitute for recipes that normally rely on the creamy texture of dairy. Since cilantro is a very strong taste for some people, I recommend blending the rest of the recipe and then adding in a few leaves at a time, until your taste buds tell you it’s ready.

Hack: substitute some lemon juice for lime and drizzle over a meatless mushroom taco salad for a hit of tangy goodness.

In a high-speed blender combine:

1 c. Soaked Raw Cashews – (soak for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight for best results)

3 Tbsp. Fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice (roughly the juice of 1 lemon)

2 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast

1 c. Grated Carrot

3/4 - 1 tsp. Sea Salt (to taste)

2/3 c. Water (less for a thicker sauce)

Fresh Cilantro to taste (leaves from 2-3 stems)

Process until smooth and set aside 1/2 c. for the following recipe. Keeps in the fridge for 1 week.

SATTVIC STUFFED SPAGHETTI SQUASH

As our markets flood with inexpensive squash and root vegetables, nothing says cool nights and comfort like roasted seasonal delights. Spaghetti squash is aptly named: when cooked, the squash flesh separates into long noodle-like fibers that can be separated with a fork. This recipe is made for a medium squash; the amount of filling and cook time varies with depending on the size of squash you buy. Also, if unavailable, all fresh herbs can be substituted for dry herbs.

Preheat oven to 400˚ F

Halve a ripe spaghetti squash and scrape out the pulp and seeds with a spoon, leaving outer skin on.

Brush the inside with a high heat oil (coconut or grapeseed) as well as a small patch on the underside where the squash sits on the baking dish.

Place the squash in a baking dish and roast for 25 min, with the open-side of the squash facing up.

While the squash roasts, combine in a bowl:

1/2 c. Cooked Quinoa

1/2 c. Cilantro Cashew Cream Sauce

1/2 c. Cooked Lentils

1-2 Diced Roma Tomatoes

1/2 Chopped Sweet Bell Pepper

1/2 c. Chopped Spinach

1-2 Stems of Fresh Thyme (leaves only)

4-7 Leaves Chopped Fresh Basil (depending on preference)

Extra Cilantro (if desired)

Remove Squash from oven, stuff with filling, and bake for 25-35 more minutes, until a fork can easily pierce the squash flesh.

Allow to cool, serve with extra cashew sauce and enjoy this sattvic goodness!

Do you have some great go-to recipes while your cleansing? We would love to see them! Comment below or follow us on Instagram and share photos of your amazing cleanse creations by tagging @sattvayoga!

Written by: Holly de Moissac

 

Ustrasana: Posture of the Month

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As we move into the month of September, the SATTVA School of Yoga will shift the attention from the perspective of Strength (the innermost central line of the body) and move towards more anterior lines that stem from the Front Body. The Front Body lines of awareness are expressed through two separate lines. The first line starts right from the tops of each one of the toes and travels up through the front of the shin, quadriceps, and abdomen, all the way to the chest. From the chest, the line will make a mere perpendicular turn and travel down the front of the arms highlighting the bicep area while continuing through the forearm (palm side up) to finish at the tips of each one of the fingers. This line, quite literally, connects right toes to right fingers and left toes to left fingers. The second Front Body line extends from the front of the perineum, heading straight up through the abdominals, through the breast bone, up the throat and finishes at the crown of the head.

Each month the “All Levels” sequences are designed and formulated by Rameen Peyrow to be very specific and beneficial for all practitioners. The sequence this month consists of sun salutations, a standing/ seated series of postures and finishes off with the infamous backbends and inversions. This month Rameen has placed these asana's (postures) in a particular order to connect and build the front body lines throughout the sequence. With each posture building upon the next, the sequence provides an opportunity to explore the more advanced postures with a warm and open body. One of those postures that we would like to highlight this month is Ustrasana. Ustrasana (oosh-TRAHS-ana) translated from Sanskrit is “Camel Pose”. Camel pose is a deep backbend that demands a strong expression from the front body and is found later in this month’s Front Body sequence. 

While it is imperative to listen to the cues of your SATTVA teacher to move into this pose, here are some steps you can consider in your next class or home practice:

1.    Start by sitting onto the heels with the toes untucked and the spine as straight as you can make it. While here, take a moment to consider the pressure that is being applied to the front of the legs into the mat. We want this same tenacity to be present as you move deeper.

            Front Body parts Working: Tops of Feet, Shins, Quadriceps

2.    Come up off of the heels, standing on the knees that are hip distance or just wider apart, legs are separated and pointing straight back to the wall behind you and the hands come to the lower back, just above the glutes. If this is too much pressure on the knees, you may consider doubling up your mat or placing a small blanket or cushion underneath.

            Front Body Working: Tops of Feet, Shins, Abdomen

3.    If this feels fine, you can begin to press the hands into the the hips, bringing the hips forward towards the front of the room while drawing the elbows closer to one another. Lift the chest straight up towards the ceiling. If this feels fine you can begin to rainbow the chest (up and then back) first and tilt the head back slightly. As you lean back, it is crucial to remind yourself of the pressing motion of the shins and feet into the mat that you discovered at the beginning of the posture. You want this part of the legs to act as a stabilizing mechanism to allow a deeper expression of the front body without compressing the spine. The stability will feel as if your legs are acting as the back leg of a photo frame- unwavering in its dedication to stability. NOTE: A good place to stop leaning back is the point where the breath becomes shallow. This is the body’s natural way of telling you that you have gone deep enough.

      Front Body Working: Tops of Feet, Shins, Quadriceps, Groin, Abdomen, Biceps, Throat

4.    If this ground work has been completed and the body feels able and willing, you may want to consider taking the hands from the lower back and lowering them down to contact and hold the heels of the feet. Be sure to continue to press the pelvis forward and draw the lower belly into the spine as you make this connection. This stacking and engagement of the abdomen provides a safe and supported bending of the spine. This full variation hits a pinnacle expression of the front body and closes the circuit that is created from the tops of the feet, to the tops of the hands. Once the hands have made contact with the feet, it is important to continue widening from the chest and externally rotating the shoulders. As mentioned before, this extended line starts from the chest and finishes at the fingers. If we create a tightening in the chest, we will be unable to feel the expansive expression that takes place in this posture.

Front Body Working: Tops of feet, Shins, Quadriceps, Groin, Psoas Major, Abdomen, Pectoralis Major/Minor, Biceps, throat.

5.    BREATHE. The in and out breath holds a significance in every posture. It is important that when the breath becomes shallow, we breathe with that much more vitality. Each inhale creating space and each exhale moving into that space.

            For this posture it is more than just creating space within the spine and the front body, it is about creating trust within the mind. Ustrasana challenges our nervous system by slowly eradicating the sensation of fear that is comes when the head falls behind us. By a steady practice and a dynamic concentrated breathing rhythm in this posture, we are not only making headway in the opening of the tissue, we are making headway in our mental health. With proper alignment and integration, ustrasana is the perfect pose to begin to conquer your fears of back bending and slowly but surely, conquer the everyday fears that exist outside your mat.

Be sure to try these alignment cues during your next practice and indulge yourself in the newly designed Front Body Sequence.

Written by Andre Arsenault

Write it Out: Journaling for Yoga

Some days we can taste that peace of mind and body that we chase, practicing with a fluidity and focus that leaves us deeply refreshed. Then, there are the other days, when the world leaks in and we can't seem to push past a busy mind to connect with ourselves. On those days, it is easy to let frustration cheat us out of enjoying the journey that sometimes moves slowly and, in the face of disconnection, we fail to remember how far we've come. I am the first to admit that I can be quickly disappointed: seeking long goals in minutes and stalling when I don't achieve with a speed I unfairly expected. In those moments of difficulty, it can be so easy to get lost in the woods of achievement-base living, where we focus on being better rather than being present.

When our perspective needs a tune up, the yoga journal becomes a lifeline back to shore. You see, yoga and writing have one very important thing in common: it is hard to do either well when you're distracted—making writing a perfect way to debrief and deeply reflect on the experience of time on the mat. When you journal about your practice:

You are able to appreciate how much you've grown.

Even though it doesn't feel like it sometimes, you have never been static. On the journey of opening and unifying the mind and body, change can be microscopic. Taking a moment after each class to jot down where you're at will provide perspective down the road, especially when you need to be reminded how far you've come.

How? Each time you practice, make a note of a small improvement you felt, as well as something that's still a challenge. As you move forward, those challenges will become a record of all the small victories that came with the commitment to your practice.

You are able to recognize and troubleshoot bad habits.

Occasionally, we step into a class and everything just feels wrong. Maybe you just ate a heavy meal or rushed in late and never really calmed down. Maybe life is just feeling heavy and you haven't been able to shake it off. However this situation happened, acknowledging the moment not only allows you to release disappointment and move forward but can also help you recognize underlying behaviors that are diminishing the quality of your practice.

How? Write a sentence or two about how your practice felt, choosing your words carefully. If there is something you feel that should have gone differently, be honest about that and then let it go. Write notes about what contributed to the quality of your experience (food/mood/life-events). Take a moment to release any negative thoughts and fears and then look back at a positive moment in your practice. Let that experience inspire you as you move forward.

You leave room to celebrate the journey.

In the hour and a half that we spend on our mats, it is easy to miss the privilege and beauty of those minutes. Our days are so packed with activity that we rarely take the time to appreciate the current moment before moving on to the next item on our schedule. Writing is an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the fullness of our practice before moving on with the day. By ending each studio session with gratitude, our attitudes are prepared for whatever comes next, which may be less than perfect. 

How? In your yoga journal, keep a gratitude column for organically documenting things that you are thankful for. Personally, during meditation, when my mind is at rest, articles of gratitude present themselves as thoughts or sensations that I observe and leave for later. Writing these things down etches them into our minds and creates a sort of "gratitude bank" for days when you need an emotional or psychological boost. 

As you incorporate journaling into your practice, you can be as creative as you like: your yoga journal could be an actual analogue book, folder on your phone, or a tab in a OneNote book. Finally, whatever format works for you, I hope you take the time to enjoy a new language of expression in your practice.

 

Perservence

North of the 50th parallel, we make it through a lot of things. We dig in through long winters and days without light. We have learned how to wait for the first full moon in May to start planting, to wait for 5 minutes because the weather will change, and to wait outside at all hours for the northern lights. We live in an environment that doesn't always produce the most pleasant conditions and we patiently make them work for us. Instead of screaming at the sky, we take up skiing.

In yoga, I think we all get to a place where we are standing in the snow, wondering if we can take the rest of the season. Whether it's in the middle of a single pose, or we're losing the will to make it to class, we all have moments where we are out of emotional fuel, patience, and time. In the midst of a cold snap, we need something to hang onto.

The month of May carried a lot of beautiful things. For me, it was a time to honor my body with nutrients and healing activities. I gained so much insight into my habits and strengths through the cleanse and the time that I spent on my mat; however, with so much focus going into one area of my life, other things were left a little dusty. As this was my first cleanse, a learning curve was to be expected and now that I’m on the other side, I’m a little drained from the game of catch up I have been playing. So, in order to recover well and not lose the love of my practice, I am examining perseverance and asking: how do we turn to the sun when we’re trapped in the season?

1. We remind ourselves that seasons do not last. When we’re stuck in the quagmire, our ability to move forward comes from acknowledging that we can. There are always new arenas of self-discovery waiting to be unlocked within the practice and feeling stuck does not diminish this. Sometimes, the best we can do is to look forward to what’s next.

2. We remember that the results are worth it and that the simple step of setting an intention is healing. What drew you to yoga in the first place? Where have you strayed or added unnecessary expectations beyond purely connecting to yourself?

3. We simplify and get back to basics. Often, when we find ourselves worn down, we have disguised our ambitions as essentials. By taking the time to separate what is necessary from the excess, we can start rebuilding our foundation. Find the parts of the practice that are the most energizing and start there.

4. Acknowledge the circumstances you are in. What does this moment have to teach you? I have often discovered that the seemingly dormant seasons of life are where I have learned the most. Any moment that we learn from is never wasted; when we learn to find meaning in our struggles, we often discover that there is opportunity hiding in all the difficulty.

Personally, I believe that the ability to persevere through difficulty comes from our understanding that something else is coming. We know how seasons work; frost isn't forever, leaves will come again, and there is always the promise of festivals under a warm sky, runs in the park, and road trips to the Rockies. We wait because we remember the kiss of the sun. Sometimes, we just need to find that good Savasana and wait for the clouds to clear—because they always do.

 

 

The Ins 'n Outs of Eating Smart and Digestion for Your Practice

Image: Rachel Gorjestani

Image: Rachel Gorjestani

Have you ever made the mistake of eating a big meal before you go to yoga? ......Start your first sun salutation of practice and immediately regret consuming the heaviest meal of life not even two hours prior?

I think we all learn the hard way at least once, don’t we? There’s a reason why your yoga teacher always says to practice on a moderately empty stomach or, if you’re constantly snacking like me, have a very light meal an hour before you get on your mat.

It all comes down to digestion: it’s a huge part of the mechanics of our bodies. This can sometimes result in discomfort in class if you’re feeling bloated or heavy, or if you’ve eaten foods that don’t necessarily optimize your practice. So let’s talk about two things, light foods for body fuel and poses to help you through digestion.

Eat Smart

When you know you’re going to practice but you need to eat, you want to think about foods that are nutrient-dense to fuel your muscles but won’t leave your stomach in knots. If you need an energy kick, fruits with naturally occurring sugars like apples or pears, super foods like avocados or chia, and higher density foods like nuts (almonds #ftw) and dried fruit (raisins or dried figs) are ultra good for a light fuel up while maintain a relatively sattvic state. My go-to is always an apple and a babybel cheese.

Aid Digestion Through Posture

Twists in general are incredibly helpful for improving digestion. While you are twisting, you are reducing blood flow to the digestive organs, so when you release, you’re letting in “new” blood to the digestive organs. Think of twists as giving your body a leg up in digestion. A few nice poses to help with digestion include seated twists, like ardha matsyendrasana, and supine twists, like jathara parivartanasana and supta matsyendrasana. Consider integrating these into a short home practice on days when you need a little extra digestive love.

Clean, light, yogic eating changes the way the body feels and works hand in hand with how you experience the postures. It's good to take into consideration yogic diet as a component of your overall practice: you are what you eat!

My SATTVA Cleanse / How to Laugh at Yourself

This story is simple. There is no surprise ending, no ironic twist of fate. What follows is the true account of a mere mortal, with a ravenous appetite for bread and cheese, trying to eat more green things and learning that a sense of humor is the perfect partner for change.

Phase 1: Resistance/Mourning

The beginning of any cleanse, characterized by mood-swings, inner complaints, and a lot of staring into your refrigerator.  

Day 1. I find myself overwhelmed and unprepared. My fridge is full of delicious things I cannot eat and hardly any produce (cries to the heavens while supportive spouse does a grocery run).

Day 3. Rediscovers the magic of kale chips. I live for kale chips. I am a kale chip. Please don't take my kale chips.

Day 4. I adapt my regular recipe of cashew sauce for the cleanse and promptly put it on everything in sight. My food life now revolves around a single condiment.

Day 5. Feeling petulant and hangry. I did not know I could hate anything as much as I now hate rice and lentils (sadly eats a skittle off the floor in desperation).

Phase 2: Plateauing

The mopey adjustment period of cleansing where you start to notice your body actually feels better than it did previously. At this point, the participant begins to accept the benefits of the food program and learns to live within its structure.

Day 7. I am now aware of the basic “tools” in my fridge and how to use them well. I notice that while I still have cravings, they become something I can view from a distance.   

Day 8. Oats, check. Green smoothie, check. Quinoa bowl, check. Off to work. 

Day 10. Well intentioned humans keep offering me food I cannot eat and I easily say no. With less ease, I ignore the urge to throw things at these people. I observe my self-control and administer an inner high-five to my willpower.

Phase 3: Sad Epiphanies

In the void left by (insert favorite food), this stage of cleansing is filled with inner-monologues about the meaning of life and the cleanser’s relationship to food.

Day 14. My gut feels much better. Oh God… I should probably eat like this all the time. Mixed emotions. Single tear rolls down cheek as I remember my last piece of cheese.

Day 15. I realize that I literally cannot have unhealthy food in my house. I will seek it, I will find it, I will destroy it.

Day 16. How is it that I can push through eating something that makes me feel gross but not push through a bowl of lentils?

Day 17. Why on Earth do we think that eating must always be a transcendental experience? Why can it not just be mostly practical? Why is my enjoyment of food so emotional? I journal about the answers to these questions. 

Day 18. I may never be able to go back to dairy again… I love dairy. I miss dairy. Reminds self of all the terrible environmental/physical ramifications of the dairy industry.  Watches Cowspiracy on Netflix for comfort.

Phase 4: Transitioning

The final phase of any cleanse, characterized by decisions about how one will carry forward the lessons learned from the cleansing period.

Today, I am still figuring this last piece out. The past month has been emotional, invigorating, and decidedly funny. In order to keep moving forward and not fall back into negative habits, I decided to take stock of the benefits I have experienced from the cleanse.

·      Reduction in cravings.

·      Discovery of new recipes and healthy treats (so many kale chips).

·      Noticed my food-habits and stress-eating triggers.

·      Reduction in appetite and subsequent portion sizes in my meals.

·      Weight loss.

·      Reduction in gas, bloating, and stomach irritation.

·      Consideration of my use of animal products.

·      More emotional consistency, reprieve from cycles of food-based guilt.

As I near the end of this process, the lesson is not what I thought it would be. While I reinvigorated my relationships to food, did some gut repair, and lowered my environmental impact, I also learned to take myself less seriously. Making healthy choices doesn’t mean you sit in the dark, pondering your negative habits and meal-planning through tears. Writing these notes, laughing at myself, and sharing my struggles with loved ones ended up being as rewarding as the changes themselves. Suddenly, this way of consuming is something I’ve fought for, something humorous, exploratory, and uniquely mine. So, in the light of a new day, I can move forward armed with new habits and, most importantly, a little more self-love.

 

 

 

Yoga is the Medicine: Dealing with Allergies

Spring is a time that we welcome with open arms, especially after terribly long winters in Edmonton. The trees start budding, the streets buzz with people out for walks, yet it’s also the oh-so-dreaded time for seasonal allergies to kick in. Although I only face minor irritants, my partner suffers from seasonal allergies immensely. The snow mould in the air makes him congested, sneezy and flat out stressed and exhausted. So, besides taking antihistamines and putting our humidifier on high at all times in the house, what else is there?

Yoga!

Simply put, yoga helps reduce stress and inflammation and opens the body up, getting rid of blockages and things we generally hold onto throughout our day. Tie allergy season in with a cleanse to reduce inflammation, and perhaps you’ll find a little extra reprieve from your seasonal congestion.

Posture Talk

Yoga is known to help reduce allergens. It forces you to focus on your breathing; observing each exhale and inhale as you move through your practice. It may be a challenge at first, but after you get a few sun salutations in you, things will start to open up. 

For dealing with congestion, heart opening postures are great to help open nasal passages. Heart openers can be anything from things like cobra pose (bhujangasana), fish pose (matsyasana) and good ol’ sun salutations. These postures help you open up your body and help the blocked-up internal gunk, like congestion, move along. Other postures you can try to help open nasal passages include shoulder stand (sarvangasana), plow pose (halasana) and backbends (urdva dhanurasana).

As with all yoga practices, a good dose of pranayama techniques and meditation can also help alleviate stressors in your body. Techniques such as alternate nostril breathing and Kapalabhati help open up your nasal passages, giving your mind and body a bit of solace it so badly wants.

It’s All in How You Frame it

There’s something quite magical about yoga that helps me frame my body and mind. I like to think that it prepares me for times when there is extra stress on the body too. Yoga is definitely known as all-out de-stressor and for some who really suffer from seasonal allergies, it could be just what you need to relax the mind and open the body.