Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mental & Material Clutter

WHOA! Nothing is more humbling and insightful than lugging all of your belongings up four flights of stairs. That's right, we are finally moved. I am currently sitting in a pile of boxes and stuff in what will one day (hopefully, soon) be our office. I can't believe how much crap I have! Who knew that this silly yogi, who sometimes brags that "there is no sentiment in objects besides the sentiments we attach to them," would have so many silly possessions. I'm actually a little embarrassed, particularly because of all the petty arguments I had with my partner Craig about my wanting to keep this, that, and the other thing for whatever reason. Clutter is so personal...

We did get rid of a lot of stuff before the move, but clearly we have a lot more to do. My friend Tracey Mackenzie, who is a wonderful feng shui specialist, interior designer, and professional organizer offered me some help, which has been useful. I thought I'd share some of her clutter reducing tips, in case anyone else out there is suffering from the pack-rat syndrome.

1- Don't attempt clutter control alone. Seriously, we all need an outside person (not spouse) to point out how ridiculous your arguments are for keeping five old cellphones "just in case".

2- Create sections or bins for "Keep", "Giveaway", "Recycle", or in the rare case, "Toss", if the other sections really don't apply.

3- Here's the kicker: You get five seconds to decide which bin each of your items go in. (Any hesitation is a sign of weakness and will likely result in a forced giveaway.)

4- If there are items that serve no real purpose other than to evoke memories, Tracey's advice is to take a picture of object of sentiment value and send it on its merry way to the next clutter-bug or hoarder.  I had to do this with a several home made crafts given to me by my younger students over the years. Taking a photo of each gift made the parting less bitter.

5- Get rid of whatever you are not keeping for sure right away or you may change your mind and keep that old Easter bunny basket, which is currently staring me down across the room.

6- Tracey's last words of wisdom: "If you get rid of the old, you make room for the new."

Good luck, my friends. Please post any other clutter management or organizational suggestions you might have. Goodness knows, I need it!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Stomach Flu Natural Remedies

Oh, the stomach flu! What a nasty bug. And one I got to know quite well in the last few days. Yes, that's right, after my emotional and material purging over the last couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to physically purge the toxins out of my body. I feel much better today, albeit still a little weak from the torment of vomiting my guts out on Wednesday night and wrestling with fever yesterday.

Having spoke to a few friends and colleagues, I hear I'm not the only one recovering from this aliment, so I thought I'd share some ayurvedic remedies should you also be affected by Viral Gastroenteritis (a.k.a the stomach flu).

First, how do you know the difference between the stomach flu and food poisoning?
Although the stomach flu and food poisoning have similar symptoms (vomiting, headaches, fever, loose stools, etc.) and are both an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, their cause differs. Food poisoning is a bacterial infection resulting from eating something disagreeable, whereas the stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis is a viral infection contracting by contact with an infected person. Both conditions usually last one to three days, but it may take two weeks or longer for the digestive system to regain its full strength. However, if you are affected by either food poisoning or the stomach flu, your immunity and digestive system was probably weakened to begin with. This is why in the same family, one or two people may get sick and the others not, even if everyone was exposed to the same food or virus.

So, how do you get over it? 
  • Rest is top priority. Stay warm and cozy in bed and just sleep and/or breathe deeply.
  • Avoid dehydration by taking small sips of room temperature water once vomiting has ceased. (Small sips are important, as big gulps with may further aggravate the system.)
  • Re-hydrating with electrolytes is important. I used the new Vega Sport Electrolyte blend in water and it helped a lot. But, you can also make your own: 1 c water  + 1 tsp agave nectar (or maple syrup) + 2 tbps lemon juice + a pinch of salt
  • Rice water is also soothing. To make it, simply boil brown rice (organic is best) with double or triple the usual amount of water. When the rice is ready, strain it and drink the water.
  • Clear broths or other clear, non-acidic beverages are beneficial.
  • Fennel and coriander tea is good too. Just put about 1/2 tsp of freshly ground fennel and coriander seeds (equal parts) in a cup of hot water and let steep for five minutes before drinking.
  • When you are ready to start eating again, I highly recommend plain rice with maybe a little yogurt or ghee + a Kitchari diet for a few days. ("Kitchari" means "mixture" or "stew" and is a staple food in India). Below is a recipe for Kitchari.
  • Go see a doctor or health care professional, if you have blood in your stool or if your symptoms get worse after a couple of days. 
  • There are many wonderful ayurvedic herbs that can also help rebalance the digestive system, but these can only be recommended on an individual basis, as not all herbs are appropriate for all people. I should be up and running in a few days, so if ever you want to set up an ayurvedic appointment you are welcome to contact me: yfgow@yasminyoga.com

KITCHARI RECIPE: The best comfort food to get the digestive system back on track...
1 c split mung beans (soak for 1 hr before using)
2 c brown rice
4 1/2 c water
3/4 tsp sea salt & black pepper
1 tbsp freshly ground cumin
1 tbsp freshly ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp freshly ground fennel seeds
1 tbsp turmeric
Small pinch of Hing or asafoetida (It helps prevent gas and can be found at an Indian store.)
About 1/2 - 1 c easily digestible veggies (zucchini, sweet potato, carrot, turnip and/or squash)

Put everything into a pot & bring to a boil. Then cover & let simmer for on Low for ~45mins. Enjoy with 1-2tsp of ghee (clarified butter) or coconut butter or oilve oil. For a little pro-biotic boost, adding a table spoon or two of plain yogurt is good with this dish.  (Tip: avoiding adding the veggies, if your digestive system is very weak.)

Don't know how to make ghee? It's really simple.

Melt 1 pound of unsalted butter (organic butter is best for therapeutic applications and if you can find grass fed cow butter all the better) on stove and let simmer for 15-20 mins on low heat. Stir continuously. Scrape foam off the top and discard. After about 15-20 mins, it with stop boiling and become clear. At this point, turn off heat. Let cool for 5-10 mins. Then strain (with cheese cloth) into clean, dry container. Cover and store in cool, dry place like pantry.

* Please feel free to also post your own suggestions for stomach flu or food poisoning cures!