Brighten your day

Bite-sized chunks of yoga theory

Brighten your day, when the world looks weary.

Upanishads, Eight Limbs and the Gita,

Quotes to make your temper sweeter.

Foods that help improve your health,

And lessons about the Inner Self.

Come and check out ‘yoga prescribed’,

Truths enlighten when well imbibed.

And if you feel by blog is worth a look,

You might also enjoy my little book!

‘YOGA PRESCRIBED’ by Carole Kerton. (£6).

‘Out of Brahman…’

We learn from the Taittiriya upanishad: “Out of Brahman, who is the Self, came ether; out of ether, air; out of air, fire; out of fire, water; out of water, earth; out of earth, vegetation; out of vegetation, food; out of food, the body of man. The body of man, composed of the essence of food, is the physical sheath of the Self.

From food are born all creatures, which live upon food and after death return to food. Food is the chief of all things. It is therefore said to be medicine for all diseases of the body…From food are born all beings which, being born, grow by food. All beings feed upon food, and, when they die, food feeds upon them.”

There! We have come full circle…Food is medicine!

Familiar Territory

The third limb of yoga is ASANA. Those who practise hatha yoga are very familiar with the postures or shapes that we learn in class. There are said to be 8,400,000 asanas. They are designed to increase our strength, suppleness and stamina, so that we can sit comfortably for meditation. Indeed the word asana actually means ‘seat’.

Asanas are practised with awareness. They include forward bends, backward bends, side bends, twists and balance postures. There are lying, sitting and standing postures and, of course, sequences. Each asana has its benefits, and an overall programme tones the body, increases the circulation and lymphatic flow, soothes the nervous system, improves the digestion and delays the ageing process. Yoga works with every part of the being, body, mind, emotions and inner spirit. To me it is a panacea, a cure-all.

From the ‘don’ts’ to the ‘do’s’

The second of the EIGHT LIMBS of YOGA is the NIYAMAS. These are the observances, the things that we should do to live a fulfilling, ethical life. The first of the Niyamas is SAUCHA, cleanliness. In the western world, we are very clean on the outside i.e showering, washing our clothes, hoovering our floors, but generally we are less concerned with the inside. Practises such as ‘neti’ or nasal cleansing are used by yogis. Tongue scraping is another favourite, and does really prevent some colds and infections. Eating nutritious, carefully chosen foods keeps our digestive tract clean and healthy. Many people nowadays are in to detox, which is helpful, focussing the mind an keeping the insides clean. Meditation is a powerful tool, used by all yogis, to clear and cleanse the mind. Yoga practice itself cleanses the energy channels and the aura.

There’s a lot to think about with this Niyama. We have been noticing the increase in rubbish thrown out of cars on the motorway. This is irresponsible and dirty. It goes against the Niyama, saucha. It is just as important to keep our neighbourhoods, our countries, our planet clean, as it is to keep ourselves clean! Dirt clutters the mind…

Empowerment

We’ve explored the idea that prana (life-force) fuels the seven main wheels of energy(chakras). It therefore follows that we want to use the best fuel possible for this purpose. Just as we would choose the correct fuel for the car, we want to select the best fuel for our energy body. Hence our interest in the values of individual foods – food is medicine. We gather good, wholesome prana from the foods that we eat and the water that we drink.

The third chakra is known as the solar plexus chakra or MANIPURA., (lustrous gem). It is connected to the element of fire and its seed sound is RAM. The colour of this wheel is yellow, and it is concerned with your will and self-empowerment. When this chakra is in perfect balance, you experience good self-esteem, confidence and a sense of you own personal power. Foods that would help Manipura would be lemons, sweetcorn, yellow peppers and bananas. Right now, we are surrounded by daffodils. These gorgeous flowers give an enormous boost to our feelings of get-up-and-go!

Finding the joy

So, pranayama is the study of gathering, storing and wisely utilising prana or life-force. We gather prana from the air that we breathe, from the sun, the earth and from the food we eat and the water that we drink.

Prana fuels the wheels of energy known as ‘chakras’. We’ve already met the root chakra, Muladhara, so now lets meet the second wheel. This lies two inches above the base of the spine. It is called the sacral chakra, or Swadhistana. This wheel of energy is connected to the element of water. It is about the joy of living in a physical body; and about letting go. This is the chakra which awakens when you’re having real fun with with your yoga asana practice. It’s orange and its seed sound is VAM.

To find more joy in your life, eat orange foods. Try carrots, orange peppers and, of course, oranges! Do buy organic, but remember that eating rainbow foods is not just about the nutrients, it is also feeding you on the energy level!

Food is medicine

On this ‘Yoga Prescribed’ blog, we have had a romp through a variety of foods which have medicinal value. Yoga teaches us to be aware; to listen to our bodies. The more in touch with the body that we become, the more we are able to read the signals. I develop a headache in a specific place if there is not enough oxygen in the room. I develop a headache in a different place if I am dehydrated. In both cases, the headaches disappear immediately once I have fixed the problem. Listen to your body.

Including a variety of foods in the diet will take care of your nutritional needs. Eat a rainbow of vegetables. If you are drawn to a certain fruit or vegetable, eat it. Your body is telling you what it needs at this moment. For instance, you might find that you are fancying carrots and oranges. Yes, you might need betacarotene and vitamin C, but on a more subtle level your sacral chakra could be out of balance. You might need more of the colour orange in your life. Listen to your body.

Always remember that the way you eat matters, too. Yoga teaches us about the three gunas. These are qualities or constituents of nature. Eating in a rush is rajasic. When you are busy, busy, busy, it is not an appropriate time to eat. Eating because you’re bored and indolent is tamasic. You’re feeding your emotions, not your body. However,eating when you are calm and balanced is sattvik. You have time to consider your food and what your body needs. You eat slowly and with appreciation. Listen to your energies…Listen to your body.

‘Food is medicine’ is an ancient Chinese proverb, and it is still so true today.

Yogurt

Yogurt has been around forever. I got into making my own when we lived in the States. Live or ‘bio’ yogurts contain health-giving bacteria which synthesise B vitamins, biotin, folic acid and B 12. They keep the bowels regular and increase the absorption of calcium and magnesium. The good bacteria in live yogurt kill the bad bacteria that cause food poisoning. It is essential to eat a yogurt everyday when taking antibiotics.

Yogurt is an excellent source of vitamin B, keeping up the spirits, and calcium. It also supplies vitamin D , which is essential for the absorption of calcium. Buying plain yogurt gives you a clean canvas. You can add your own organic fruit, so you know exactly what is in it.

Wonderful walnuts

Walnuts are a wonderful health-giving and nutritious snack. They provide protein, slow-release energy, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamins B6 and E. The oil contained in walnuts is very special. There is seven times more polyunsaturated fat than saturated fat. This in conjunction with the antioxidant properties of walnuts makes them an ideal treatment for anyone with heart, circulatory, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems.

Spanish and American scientists have discovered that eating a handful of walnuts a day significantly lowers cholesterol levels.

Engraved clay tablets dating from 2,000 B.C. showed walnuts growing in the hanging gardens of Babylon! And the Greeks and Romans treated them as a royal food. The most widely grown variety is the English walnut. I well remember my dad cracking walnuts at Christmastime, when I was a little girl. Add them to your shopping list this week…

Turmeric

Indian Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe turmeric for eyesight, rheumatism, arthritis and liver problems. It is a spice which should be in daily use as it provides substantial amounts of highly protective and immune-boosting antioxidants. Research has shown that one of its natural constituents, curcumin, is very powerful in cancer prevention and treatment.

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. It is grown for its root, and is used extensively in curry recipes. Make sure you have this wonderful medicine in your spice rack!