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Ayurvedic Corner – Romantic and Healthy Gifts

February has arrived and that means it’s time to think about what to give the romantic partner in your life for Valentine’s day. This year consider something a little more unique than just the customary flowers and chocolates. (And if you’ve already gotten your loved one a gift for Valentine’s Day, consider these suggestions for special anniversary celebrations or date nights.) For this month’s article, I highlight a few romantic gifts with an Ayurvedic twist. Enjoy! 

Fine Ayurvedic Massage Oils
We all know that in Ayurveda we use oil for daily Abhyaṅga or self oleation massage. What about gifting your partner a special oil that you both can use to massage each other? The following oils are not only good for romantic or sensual connection, they also help fortify ojas in the body. Ojas is the best result of digestion of the complete body that demonstrates the body’s strength capacity. Ojas is also sometimes translated as our immune system. When we engage in too much sexual intercourse, exercise, and stress, our ojas becomes depleted.

Enhance you and your partner’s ojas this month. Check out Shiva and Shakti Ojas Oils by Aromabliss at Aromabliss.com. These two oils are made with all organic ingredients. They are deliciously smooth and sensual, with the perfect subtle yet enticing aroma. The Shakti half of this duo is made with herbals infusions that include saffron, rose petals, Ashoka and Shatavari, just mention a few ingredients. And the Shiva formula includes such ingredients as Ashwaghanda, bergamat, and davana.

Furthermore, Banyan Botanical’s Ashwaganda and Bala oil can be easily made into a sensual massage oil with the addition of a few essential oils such as lavender, rose, neroli, jasmine, fennel, or ylang ylang. For those of who aren’t familiar with Bala, is an Ayurvedic herb that is good for building bodily strength and endurance. It is also useful for the nervous system and is said to be an aphrodisiac. All three of these oils can be utilized for sensual massage and can be further integrated into one’s normal Abhyaṅga routine with doshic specific oils.

Different Kind of Roses
Roses are such a popular gift item for women for Valentines’s day. But have you ever considered organic rose petal preserve instead? Or maybe adding it to your special evening’s menu? (How about feeding your partner pure rose joy?) Go to chandika.com , the retail website of the late Vaidya Mishra out of Los Angeles, right now and order the organic rose petal preserve. The taste is heavenly indeed, made to open the hearts of all who consume it. According to Vaidya Mishra, roses are “hridya, cooling and soothing to the heart and mind in stressful situations.” Famous for it’s aphrodisiac properties, roses are also good for fortifying the bodily tissues and boosting metabolism.

Make the time you spend with your partner special, whether it is February 14th or not. I hope these gift ideas inspire health and loving, playful expression to all. Namaste.
Melissa Camacho, guest writer, is a licensed acupuncturist and Ayurvedic practitioner in Sedona. To contact her, please click here.

Vedic Astrology for February

Aquarius-The Water Bearer

In mid-February we experience the second eclipse of the winter season, with a solar eclipse happening on February 15, 2018. A big emphasis will be on the sign of Aquarius this month, with three planets transiting the sign, plus the eclipse will occur there. The nodes of the Moon, Rahu and Ketu, are stationing (not moving) all month, signaling increased pressures that need to be released in positive ways.

Venus, the Sun, and Mercury all shift to the sign of Aquarius this month. First Venus moves to Aquarius on February 6, followed by the entry of the Sun on February 12, and finally Mercury transits the sign beginning February 14. Aquarius is a fixed air sign and is known for progressive and alternative interests. Aquarius carries a deep desire for community and involvement with social causes. Saturn rules the sign of Aquarius, so be mindful of overworking or becoming too self-criticalness at this time. Pace yourself and find nurturing activities to do. With the energies of Aquarius more dominant this month, we may experience a tendency to be more in our heads than our hearts now. It might be helpful this month to increase our heart focus to experience more meaningful and intimate connections with others.

All three planets, the Sun, Venus, and Mercury, will now be aspected by Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter in February. The Saturn aspect gives a more serious tone and we expect loyalty and greater commitment in our lives. The Mars aspect gives passion, but with Saturn in the mix, we can experience some setbacks if we move ahead to quickly. Jupiter, the great benefic, aspects these three planets too, and helps us move through any issues that surface with more understanding, grace, and generosity.

The big event this month is the solar eclipse that occurs on February 15, 2018 at 2:05 PM (MST) at 3 degrees Aquarius in the nakshatra of Dhanishta. This is the second eclipse of a pair, as the first eclipse occurred on January 31, 2018. Mercury will be very close to this eclipse, within 2 degrees, and it will also be combust the Sun, so Mercury’s integrity is challenged. Be extra careful and precise with all of your communications with others around this eclipse.

Dhanishta means “the wealthiest,” and indicates a theme of reevaluating what wealth and prosperity means to each of us. Material wealth may be easier to understand or attain, but how do we invest and generate the spiritual wealth in our lives? True wealth will not lose value, and is generated by genuine kindness, forgiveness, charitable actions, and heartfelt compassion. Practicing acceptance of whatever arises inside our hearts with no judgment is a helpful and healing response.

Dhanishta is an intense and powerful nakshatra, especially if we work with high ideals for the goodness of all. However, we may also see the shadow of Dhanishta rise, which is expressed as egotism, a sense of superiority, or deceptive activities. Use the inner courage of Dhanishta to work for the greater good, despite challenges faced.

Remember that eclipses are not to be feared, but are times of high spiritual energy. Inner reflection, meditation, and yoga are positive expressions during eclipses. In a way, eclipses are windows of opportunity that can bring unresolved issues or underlying motivations to the surface in order to be understood and healed so we can move forward. They can bring significant change in our lives over time.

Currently the nodes of the Moon, Rahu and Ketu, have been stationing at 20 degrees in the signs of Cancer and Capricorn, since January 13, 2018 and will remain so until March 18, 2018. Occasionally, when the nodes stay put on a degree for an unusually long period of time, unexpected or significant events can surface. If you have planets close to 20 degrees Cancer or Capricorn, then you might feel the impact of this long nodal transit. It’s best to be non-reactive, let go of excessive desires, and not be hard on yourself which lessens the intensity. Try to stay focused and centered. Use your energies constructively, possibly by helping others in need, being more creative, or even taking a well-deserved rest, which can help transmute any build up of excessive pressures in order to feel mentally balanced and at peace.

 

Debra Infante, Vedic astrologer, can be reached at (928) 639-0623 or by email for astrological consultations, either in person or by phone.

 

 

The Adventures of Lionheart, Temple Cat – The Temple of the Heart

Guruji Lionheart, a sage among cats

It was through scientific cats that French researchers in 1974 learned that the heart was not just following the directions of the brain but seemed to have its own logic and could act independently of the brain.
This was not news to temple cats or yogis.

There is the heart as an organ and then beyond the physiological dimension there is Hridayakasha or “the space where purity resides’. It relates to that cardiac plexus of nerves however this chakra stimulates the parts of the brain responsible for creativity of the fine arts, painting, dance, music and poetry”1

Anahata is the name of the heart chakra in the subtle body meaning “unstruck or unbeaten” and refers in scripture to the transcendental sounds or music of the heavens that are made without the friction of two parts in the tradition of how sound is usually made. For example a cat walks on piano keys to play avant-garde music, or claws the sofa for attention, or howls to alert the presence of strange cats in the yard…

In the chakra yantra below the 12-petaled lotus is the kalpa taru or the wish fulfilling tree.

It is the representation of the siddhi or supernatural power that is awarded when the Anahata chakra is awakened and with that we can transcend the karma that is fated. Any thoughts are immediately made manifest. In preparation, the purification of the mind and training oneself to think positively is the practice for a temple cat. When that time comes and the heart awakens, one has already mastered the negative tendencies of that alley cat egoic mind and the wisdom mind of the guru within is the driver of the chariot for the Atma or soul.

This is the next step in the evolution of the collective consciousness. It is in the heart that the balance of the duality of this dimension represented by the pull between east and west, right and left brain, republican and democrat, the black and white, the have and have nots…the list of polarities has many forms. However in its essence, it is all the same dynamic struggle. In the symbology of the heart chakra yantra, there are the two interlocking triangles. The upward is Shiva cat representing heaven and the downward is Shakti cat representing the earth in the perfect balance of the masculine and feminine. It is this union that is the enlightenment and goal of yoga for temple cats.

 

1 Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda, pg 101

Ayurvedic Corner ~ Red Lentil Soup

The flu is going around here in the Verde Valley.  There are many people with aches and pains, congestion, fevers, and coughs.  This sort of pathology can manifest and stem from all three doshas depending on the presentation.  For this month’s article, I’ll share a recipe from Dr. Lad’s Ayurvedic Cooking For Self Healing.  According to Dr. Lad, this red lentil soup is good to take during the flu and episodes of diarrhea.

1 cup red lentils
5 cups water
2 tspns safflower oil
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 pinch hing
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
5 curry leaves, fresh or dried
1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
½ tspn turmeric
1 tspn masala powder
½ tspn salt

 

Wash the beans twice and soak overnight in plenty of water.  Drain.  Add the beans and 4 cups of water to a soup pot and bring to a boil.  Cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Stir beans occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add 1 more cup of water and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes or until beans are tender.  Set aside.  Heat the oil in a small pan or frying pan until medium hot, then add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing.  At the moment, when the seeds pop, stir in the garlic and brown lightly.  Add the curry leaves, cilantro, turmeric, and masala powder.  Mix quickly.  Stir the spice mixture into the soup, then add the salt.  Add some or all of the last cup of water, depending on how thick you want the soup.  Bring to a boil for 2 minutes and serve with rice and chapati or bread.  (I would suggest here to serve this with turmeric rice for an added medicinal punch.)
Overall, this soup is tridoshic.  Red lentils contain sweet and astringent tastes.  They have a cooling virya and sweet vipaka.  They are high in folate, fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium.  They may increase Vata dosha on their own, though in this recipe they are well balanced and antidoted by the spices and oil.  Stay healthy and strong in the new year with Dr. Lad’s red lentil soup!
 

Melissa Camacho, guest writer, is a licensed acupuncturist and Ayurvedic practitioner in Sedona. To contact her, please  click here.

Vedic Astrology for January

In January 2018, Saturn, planet of stability and truth, settles into the fire sign of Sagittarius until January 2020.

Previously, during most of 2017, the normally grounded Saturn was moving very slowly between the two signs of Scorpio and Sagittarius, and transiting very sensitive and significant degrees, initiating change, but not generating much steadiness in our lives. Now we begin to stabilize and commit to expressing our true dharma or purpose in life. Venus, planet of relationship and healing will be combust the Sun most of the month, indicating more effort is required to restore and appreciate the important connections we have with others.
The transit of Mars is quite strong this month as it moves to its own sign of Scorpio on January 16, 2018, bringing more drive, ambition, and depth, but control issues may surface. And at the end of the month on January 31, 2018, we begin the winter eclipse season with a lunar eclipse in the sign of Cancer, signaling a time of revelation and significant change. Saturn in Sagittarius powerfully shines the light on equality, and that includes humanitarian concerns, human rights, and fairness within the government and judicial system. Personally, we are asked to scrutinize our belief system, and begin to “walk our talk.” Challenges could bring delays or restrictions as we try to uncover the truth in our society, or we have difficulty in letting go of old prejudices and beliefs that no longer serve us. We are redefining our value system – personally and collectively.
In addition, Saturn in Sagittarius is transiting the nakshatra of Mula, which means “the root.” We need to go deep to find our truths and get to the heart of the matter. Mula also relates to medicinal roots or alternative medicine, so we could find that Ayurvedic remedies are quite helpful. Mula’s deity is Kali, goddess of destruction, and so some dissolving qualities emerge. Weak foundations can crumble or even our own ignorance is destroyed, in order to set us on the right track toward self-actualization.
Venus is traveling very close to the Sun (within 5 degrees) the entire month as both the Sun and Venus move through the signs of Sagittarius and Capricorn.  When a planet is extra close to the Sun it is called combustion, meaning its significations and integrity are somewhat weakened. Conflicts in love and relationship could surface to be addressed. Venus combust can actually increase the desire for love or compassion to be an integral part of our lives. The challenge with combustion is our inability to express this desire. For example, we can’t find the time in our busy schedules for relationship bonding and healing. So use this transit to prioritize your life to include enough time to really share with your loved ones and to appreciate them. Try not to overwork, and by committing to create time for self-care, and you may find it much easier to express gratitude to those you love.

Mars enters its own sign of Scorpio from January 16 to March 6, 2018. Mars is quite driven, focused and desirous in Scorpio. This is a powerful transit, that bring passion and motivates us to accomplish our goals. Scorpio is a fixed water sign, generating persevering and persistent energies, even to the point of stubbornness, coupled with an inability to release old emotional hurts. This is a time to allow the higher side of Mars in Scorpio to dominate, through taking courageous action when needed, improving our energy and vitality through heart-felt activities, and working with determination and discipline. However, Rahu (north Node of the Moon) transiting the sign of Cancer will be aspecting Mars while in Scorpio. This influence exaggerates Mars’ energies. Positively, Mars and Rahu can increase our ambitious actions and the development of inner strength. The shadow of Rahu aspecting Mars brings the increased need to control and dominate others, and this can manifest as power struggles or conflict. However, by directing this amplified energy towards positive spiritual and inspirational expressions, this transit can be quite potent. The choice is up to us. Remedies to uplift Mars would involve activities that soften aggressive energies, such as cultivating patience and mindfulness, and committing to a regular practice of meditation and yoga. The 2018 winter eclipse season begins at the end of January with a lunar eclipse occurring on January 31, 2018 at 17 degrees Cancer in the nakshatra of Ashlesha. In Vedic culture, eclipses are days for spiritual life and meditation, and not for material endeavors or signing contracts. Eclipses are meant for spiritual initiation, meditation, and inner work, and they can trigger personal and spiritual growth. The Nagas, or deified serpents, are associated with this eclipse nakshatra, signifying a connection to kundalini energy, chakra work, deep healing, and transformation.  The shakti of Ashlesha is “the power to poison,” and it carries a charismatic and mesmerizing energy. Ashlesha also possesses a hidden quality, so be aware of any subtle, manipulative tendencies that could surface during this time as well. Discernment, objectivity and honesty are important qualities to embrace during this particular eclipse. Remedies for Ashlesha are to express gratitude in your life and be generous to others.

Debra Infante, Vedic astrologer, can be reached at (928) 639-0623 or by email  for astrological consultations, either in person or by phone.

The Adventures of Lionheart, Temple Cat – Brave New You!

This is a time of year when the theme of renewal, rebirth and second chances is on the “collective mind”. In the doctrine of reincarnation in the Vedas -a living being starts a new life in a different physical body or form after each biological death. And in ancient cultures, each day the sun is newly born at dawn and sets at dusk.

Here we are again starting another year of revolutions around the sun, hopeful for what is ahead and energized to change what doesn’t work any longer. Navigating day to day with some grace and dignity as life delivers daily lessons has been a point of focus for me as a teacher and columnist, not unlike other popular media figures. If each day has the possibility for a second chance, we can look to the present moment for inspiration.
Now in my 14th year I am considered somewhat of a veritable elder and a source of temple cat wisdom. I have come up with some advice to add to my handbook for temple cat “wannabes” based upon what I relearned last year.

1) If you put a temple cat or anyone on a pedestal, eventually you will be disappointed when your expectations are not met.
It is natural for a temple kitten to seek role models in their journey, however, this changes the teacher, a parent, a hollywood star, a politician into an idealized symbol. Eventually when their humanness shows, there is disillusionment. And everything gets thrown out. Sometimes Often the teachings are faulted, or what they stood for. The ending of an illusion can be a painful rite of passage on the path of spiritual maturity. Wise temple cats learn to stay focused on the teaching not the messenger.
2) Strengthen your intuition by using the body as a radar system. Most humans recognize goose bumps can be a way of getting one’s attention or confirming a truth. You can ask your body to let you know when it is important to pay attention. Fur standing on end is one signal for temple cats, spontaneous shedding of hair is another.
3) Spend more time in nature – it balances the body and heals the spirit. Nature is the greatest of all temples reserved for such spiritual activities as rolling in the dirt, climbing a tree for perspective, or being chased by leaves. There are endless opportunities for heightening awareness, developing the skill of one-pointed focus on birds and bugs, for example, as well experiencing sammadhi while practicing shavasana in the sun.

How we are in relationships of all kinds, really counts. The experience of connecting to ourselves, to others, to everything is one of the great gifts of living. We are not our jobs. Being a temple cat allows one expression of dharma which gives purpose and direction to Life but it is your journey through relationships that you take with you. Create good karma with the temple cats in your lives – it will come back around!

Outreach Program 2016

Update on 7 Centers’ Yoga Outreach Programs
December 7th, 2016
Dear Friends,
I have finally put pen to the paper. So much creativity and expansion has happened this year I wanted to share with you! It is another important way of extending yoga into our communities.
We have two yoga outreach programs currently underway.  Our local project is the Children’s Yoga Training program, part of an effort to bring yoga to kids in the Arizona school system.  Our International Outreach is the Palestinian Yoga Teachers project, a program to train Palestinian yoga teacher trainers in partnership with Farashe Yoga studio in Ramallah, West Bank.
Local Project: Our Children’s Yoga Training program led by Ana Hansen, is focused upon giving important set of mind/body integration tools to school teachers, img_0046counselors and those that work with children. As part of the 2017 training, I am developing a pilot conflict resolution course that can be tailored to different ages of children that discusses conflict, stereotyping and discernment around social media as a source of news and information. We are hoping to include some current Sedona Red Rock High School students in the course.
School  teachers are often unsung heroes that are often underpaid, with large classes, putting in hours beyond the classroom and so for 2017 we have created a weekend format that accommodates their schedule. It includes a Friday evening and a full day Saturday once a month with additional practicum field trips to classrooms and working with juveniles in community service programs in Cottonwood.

International Project: As many of you already know, Rama Jyoti Vernon and I went to the West Bank in April/May of 2015 and offered workshops sponsored by Farashe, the first yoga studio in Palestine. It was an amazing trip to Israel and Palestine which I documented as a travelogue and have posted on the website (read more here.)  There was great response to the therapeutic yoga with ongoing discussions with Maha El Sheikh* to find a way to continue and grow the seeds that had been planted. Rama and I both felt that the best use of our skills was to “teach the teachers”. This year I sent a proposal to the Farashe Board of Directors with a 3-5 year plan for training Palestinian yoga teachers to the level of 500-hour teacher trainers, and to then establish the first Arabic-speaking 200-hour Hatha Yoga training in Palestine.

This year the Board of Directors of Mystis approved the Palestinian yoga project and has offered 5 full scholarships of $3295 to our teacher trainings to Palestinian teachers that have gone through an application process with Farashe’s Board of Directors.
* Maha El Sheikh is an American yoga teacher born in Phoenix with parents from Egypt and Jordan who has worked with UNWRA (United Nations Work & Relief Agency)  and helped found Farashe Yoga studio in Ramallah in 2010.
Where are we now at the end of the year?
Nahed Bandak from Bethlehem successfully completed the 200-hour January teacher training and Shadan Nassar completed the May 300-hour Yoga Therapy training. Shadan is just finishing teaching her first diabetes prevention yoga program in conjunction with a nutritionist in refugee camps and wrote recently to me:
 “I have been crystallizing my vision in refugee camps for the future too lately, which is feeling so great! 🙂 This Wednesday will be our last session with the diabetes prevention workshops for the pilot program; we are still talking about expansion. Yoga Nidra was the ladies’ favourite part always!  It was the first time they get to relax in many years they said…. Working with them is so hard most times but so easy at the same time, but most importantly so deep and beautiful! I want to offer you much gratitude for all the teachings and the clear vision you have that is also starting to run through me so very wonderfully, Thank you.” 
Plans for 2017
We are excited to welcome three more Palestinian students for the January 200-hour Hatha training: Lana Qumsieh, Majdal Soubeh and Safwat Jamhour.
In April/May 2017, with five teachers having their foundational yoga training completed, the plan is for me and Rama to go to Palestine and begin the 300-hour Advanced Yoga training to address chronic health conditions that can be benefitted by therapeutic yoga classes and programs.
About Mystis
Mystis, Inc. is the non-profit 501(c) 3 branch of 7 Centers Yoga Arts and has been supporting the vision of the Outreach yoga programs by offering scholarships to qualified students. A number of supporters of 7 Centers have generously donated in the past, allowing for the development and growth of these kinds of community programs. We would like to invite you to make a donation of your choice.   If you feel drawn to encourage these efforts, we would appreciate your help in continuing this work.  Seva or service is an intrinsic part of the yogic path and there are many with great kindness who have contributed in all kinds of ways to 7 Centers, so we thank you for the many years of support!
Scholarship Donations
______   $1500 allows 2 teachers partial scholarships in the Children’s Training
_______ $3295 allows for 1 Palestinian yoga teacher to attend a 200 hour training
_______ $ Donation of your choice

Outreach Yoga

December 31, 2017
Dear Friends,

The Palestinian Yoga Teachers project is our international yoga outreach program in partnership with Farashe Yoga studio in Ramallah,West Bank.  In the initial trip to the West Bank with Rama Jyoti Vernon in 2015, we taught yoga to UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) psycho-social counselors and with a phone call, ended up teaching in five refugee camps the last week as news spread about the yoga classes.

First yoga workshop at Farashe studio 2015 with Rama

Our contact with Palestinians showed us people that were curious, humorous,philosophical, deeply longing for a happy life for themselves but even more for their children. Most of all they wanted to improve their lives and their health.  As we taught about breathing and the spine in postures it became clear that a therapeutic yoga approach was effective and many students expressed a need and  desire for more.

Upon my return to Sedona, I agreed to train and mentor five Palestinian yoga teachers to the 500 hour level of therapeutic yoga.   Therapeutic yoga classes are designed in series to build and maintain health for students of all ages with a chosen focus for example on digestion, joints and muscles or common respiratory conditions. The teachers are also trained to create longer term therapeutic yoga programs for individuals recovering from illness, accidents or surgery including reviewing food choices based on Ayurvedic nutrition. They also learn the practice of yoga nidra and personal conflict resolution based on the yoga sutras.
Agreement:  With the help of scholarships (and supportive family), five women committed to becoming yoga teacher trainers in Palestine through the 500 level of training at 7 Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona.

To date:      1) All five women have completed their 200 hour foundational level of yoga training.

2) Shadan and Lana have completed the 500 hour therapeutic yoga program

Accomplishments:
In 2016 Shadan Nassar partnered with a nutritionist to deliver this pilot program of diabetes prevention into several refugee camps. She has since been hired full time to continue this work and also organizes and serves in Vipassana meditation retreats in Palestine.  Since returning from Sedona Lana has been offering classes within her community and writes, “I am so happy I am helping these women; it is amazing to observe their transformation, while they do come to yoga to practice asanas, and concentrate on the physical body, but when they are encountered with breathing techniques, yoga nidra, meditation and the postures, they leave with a much uplifted spirit. Yoga reduces stress, promotes healing, and enhances quality of life. Some of the students asked to have classes to discuss the philosophy of yoga. I believe there is a hunger for spiritual meaning to our lives, especially in the current political situation; at least, yoga could offer peace of mind and a sense of calmness, even though we do not experience those in our own country. Yoga elevates the sense of responsibility towards our community and the society.” Lana will be joining another teacher trainer, Nahed to offer yoga classes at Duheishah refugee camp in Bethlehem starting in 2018.
*There was a rewarding 3 week  trip to  Israel and the West Bank with Mira Murphy in April/May of 2017. We offered yoga workshops including a 3 day conflict resolution seminar while Mira introduced Ayurvedic teachings for yoga practitioners for the first time in the West Bank. We also learned how to shop in the markets and are learning the Arabic names of spices!
Timeline
2018  
1)  Majdal and Maha plan on completing the 500 hour therapeutic yoga training in May (God willing!)
2)  All five women will work to gain experience in therapeutic yoga by teaching jobs in one or more refugee camps.
3)  Mira and I will return to the West Bank and continue teaching yoga and ayurveda  for stress, anxiety and depression as well as cardiovascular health for the community while mentoring the new teacher trainers as they assist us in workshops.
4)  Find a way to teach men’s yoga in Palestine (the interest is there, the visas are not)
2019-2020
1) Create, translate and offer the first 200 hour yoga teacher training taught by Palestinian yoga teachers.
It is an ambitious vision but slowly slowly it is happening!! It is difficult to stay  practice the yogic way of being centered and nonreactive in the kind of political, economic and cultural turmoil that presents on a daily basis through this long entrenched conflict between Palestine and Israel. We are so proud of these passionate and dedicated yoga teachers and the healing, education and inspiration they are bringing back to their communities.
If you feel inclined to contribute to this ongoing project, donations are tax-exempt through Mystis, Inc.  With the generosity of donors, over $17,000 in scholarships have supported this project in the last two years. The students are matching their scholarship by paying for travel and housing. This is a small personal project. We stay in touch through email and Skype conference calls. It is out of love and hope for the future that everyone continues.  Not unsurprisingly, the teachers are finding that they are influencing and affecting the lives of everyone they teach yoga to. To me this the essence of what outreach yoga is.
Many blessings for the New Year!
Sraddhasagar  (Ruth Hartung)
Director of 7 Centers Yoga Arts

Ayurvedic Corner ~ Cardamom Shortbread

 

The first printed recipe of shortbread was written down by a Scottish woman called Mrs McLintock in 1736 and became widely associated with Christmas, Hogmanay (Scottish New year) and wedding festivities in Scotland. This Ayurvedic version of shortbread is softer when eaten fresh than the traditional shortbread bought in stores (which is better for Vata).

Cardamom is a magical heart-opening spice, sweet and spicy like cinnamon but minty fresh and clearing to the pranic channels. If you love this spice, try doubling up on the cardamom. Makes a 10 X 14 inch pan.

Favorite holiday cookie w/ cardamom

 

 

Recipe:

  • 1 Cup butter
  • 1 cup succanant
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1-2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/3 tsp salt

 

 

 

Directions:

  • Set butter out to soften 2 hours in advance
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • Cream the butter, sugar and spices and nut milk
  • Whisk flour and salt, then blend into the butter mixture
  • Press evenly into a buttered 10×14 pan or two 9-inch pans
  • Prick and score if you like
  • Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Do not allow shortbread to brown or it will harden
  • Cut into bars or wedges before it entirely cools.

 

Excerpted from 7 Centers Ayurvedic Cookbook edited by Mira Murphy.
Recipe Source: Ysha Oakes (Ayurdoula), founder of The Sacred Window organization.

The Adventures of Lionheart, Temple Cat – Jackson Le Pew

 

Jackson has been getting a lot of attention lately – and not all positive. It is one of the great non partisan lessons of karma; creating unintended and negative consequences due to taking actions or speaking without reflection.

It was a beautiful Thanksgiving day. Temple dog Jackson was taking yoga students Danny and Emily on the hike up West Fork when he saw a black striped ground squirrel. Like most dogs, Jackson loves squirrels with all his heart and nothing is more fun than to chase them up trees. However this “squirrel” was digging at the base of a tree, minding its own business when Jackson charged it.
This was Jackson’s introduction to Skunk medicine.

Jackson doesn’t like baths and this was his third.

“As a totem animal Skunk medicine asks us to defend ourselves effectively, without causing further conflict. Interestingly, the skunk would prefer to be even less assertive. It takes over a week to reproduce its stinky juices after using them (their glands are only good for about 4 sprays). Ergo, the skunk is 100% sure it must spray before doing so as this defense tool is a commodity in the wild – not to be wasted on false alarms.

 

Unfairly maligned, a true pacifist

In recognizing this, we see the skunk is the ultimate pacifist, and by adopting its peace-loving ways we may obtain the carefree lifestyle this creature enjoys.
Carefree indeed, the skunk has very few predators because most of the animal kingdom recognize its tell-tale markings and know from wildlife scuttlebutt the skunk is not to be fooled with. As such, the skunk goes about its business with aplomb, and has an innocent quality that few wild creatures have the luxury of exhibiting.”1

 

Jackson himself wasn’t bothered by the smell. On the contrary, he was puzzled that his usual adoring audience didn’t want to be around him, why he was banished to the yard and why he had to have three baths. In fact I am not sure that he has connected the dots between trying to bite the skunk’s behind and becoming a persona non grata.

Now I am not making a case for the superiority of cat intelligence but…dogs don’t seem to learn as quickly in some areas. Like people…even famous ones …even presidents!

 

1 http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-skunk.html