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Ma~Maste

/ MAH – məs – tay /

5 Tips for Dealing with Change

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“Now it’s like this.”

I was at Wanderlust Festival here in Nashville a few years ago, where renowned yoga teacher and all-around inspirational badass Chelsey Korus was leading the group yoga portion. “Now it’s like this,” she kept saying over and over, weaving this beautiful mantra throughout the hour long practice, encouraging us to understand and embrace that the only real constant in life is change. Now, it’s like this…in a moment, it will be like something else. Of course I already knew this, but now to have the permission I needed to let it be what it is? Game changer. I’ve literally thought about this mantra just about every day since first hearing it, and the older I get the more I realize that perhaps truer words have never been spoken.

Here’s the deal. Impermanence is inescapable. It just is. Here in Tennessee, all you have to do is simply look outside and observe the changing seasons. It’s currently springtime, one of my favorites. I’m reminded that the old dies off and that new growth is just around the corner. That time makes this transformation inevitable. That change is inevitable. And just like in nature, your life is constantly shifting and moving, keeping you on your toes and teaching you extraordinary lessons…should you choose to pay attention.

For instance, you might find yourself in a place of warm, fuzzy comfort, only to be hit upside the head and have your entire world rocked by change. No matter what you do or say, you can’t stop this change from happening.  How do you react? Do you resist? Do you hide? It’s like that moment in yoga class when you fiiinally make it through all the standing postures and get down to the floor with one thing on your mind…Savasana…but then your loving teacher (me!) leads you into 10 minutes of really freaking hard core work. You know what I’m talking about! Can you change the story in your head? “Um ok, so Savasana isn’t happening YET. I’m going to rock this core work and show it who’s boss. I am fierce.  I am willing.  I am capable.  I embrace this moment because now it’s like this. Soon, it won’t be like this. Then, it will be like something else. But now, it’s like this.”

On the contrary, you may find yourself in a time of extreme discomfort, yearning for change to happen and to happen fast. How do you react? Do you resist? Do you hide? Once again, it’s the same in yoga, where we move from one pose to another. You may find yourself stuck in Chair Pose for far longer than you wish. Body trembling, sweat dripping down the face, internally cursing your teacher (again, me!) and swearing to yourself that if she tells you to “sit an inch lower” one more time, you’re out and that’s that. Can you change the story to look a little like this…”Yeah, this really sucks. But I’m here. Now it’s like this. I’m alive. I’m growing stronger. I’m connected to my breath. I’m connected to my body. I’m aware of my thoughts, but I am not my thoughts. And in a moment, it will be like something else. I embrace this Chair Pose because now it’s like this.”

When you resist change rather than trusting the process, you are setting yourself up to miss out. All of it…the good, the bad, and everything in between…is there to teach you and to help you grow into a bigger, better version of the amazing soul that you already are. It’s not easy, but guess what…it is what it is. It IS. And here are 5 tips to help you move a little more gracefully through these times:

  • BREATHE. Take a beat. Breathe in deeply and know that you’re breathing in. Breathe out deeply and know that you’re breathing out. Repeat for a few rounds of breath.
  • REPEAT CHELSEY’S MANTRA…”NOW IT’S LIKE THIS.” Remember that change is the only constant and that it won’t be like this forever.
  • BE GRATEFUL. Find even the tiniest sense of gratitude for this shift. Even if you don’t fully understand it yet, be thankful for what’s yet to come.
  • WRITE IT DOWN. Frustrated? Write it down. Angry? Write it down. Completely at a loss? Write it down. Get it all out. Then crumple up the paper and throw it away. Get it out of your system then move on in faith that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
  • TRUST GOD AND TRUST THE PROCESS AND ITS TIMING. There are much bigger forces at work. Enough said.

Short and Sweet Sick Day Flow

Cold or flu got you down?  Here is a short and sweet little sick day flow for those times that you are unable to carry on normal physical activity levels but are still in need of some movement in the body.  This sequence is easy on the sinuses, and it gently incorporates all kinds of movement through the spine.  As always, listen to your body, and give yourself permission to rest whenever rest is due.

1. Neck Stretch.  Sit in Sukhasana, or a simple cross legged seat.  Slowly and gently, roll the head in circles to one direction, repeatedly.  Take it slowly, noticing where you are tight and consciously trying to release that tension.  Reverse the direction.

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2. Seated Cat/Cow.  With hands on knees, take a big breath in and pull the heart through the shoulders, extending the spine and dropping the head back to open up the throat.  As you exhale, round through the spine, tucking the chin into the chest.  Repeat for several breath cycles.

3. Seated Side Stretch.  Still sitting in Sukhasana (or any comfortable seat that may work better for you), place your left hand on the mat by your left hip and reach your right arm up and over to the left.  Maximize the stretch in the right side body by keeping the right arm plugged into the right ear so as not to close off the front body, and also by staying grounded through the right sit bone.  Repeat on the other side.

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4. Seated Heart Opener.  Sitting in Sukhasana, clasp your hands together behind your back and gently pull them out and away from the lower back.  Take your gaze upward if it’s comfortable for the neck.  Hold for several breaths.

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5. Sphinx Pose.  Lying all the way down on your belly, stretch the legs out behind you and start to come up onto the forearms, stacking the shoulders directly over the elbows and bringing the forearms parallel to each other.  Inhale the torso up off the mat, keeping wrinkles out of the back of the neck so that the neck stays in line with the rest of the spine.  Treat this as a passive pose, or make it a little more active by pressing firmly through the fingertips to pull the heart forward even more.  Hold for several breaths.

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6.  Supported Child’s Pose.  From hands and knees, shift the hips back toward the heels, keeping the knees together or taking them mat-width apart (yogi’s choice).  Let the torso drape down over the thighs and rest the forehead on a block at its highest position.  Rest the arms back by sides or clasp hands around the block.  Stay here for several breaths.

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7. Supine Spinal Twist.  Lie all the way down on your back.  Hug the knees into the chest, then allow the arms to come out to the sides of the body in a T shape.  Take a big breath in here, and as you exhale, allow the knees to gently fall down to the left side of your body, taking the gaze over the right fingertips if comfortable for the neck.  Hold for several breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

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8. Legs up the Wall.  Bring your seat as close to the wall as possible, and then begin to lie on your back, sending your legs straight up the wall.  Simple as that.  Stay here for as long as you like.

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Grounding Affirmation for the Holidays

Positive affirmations are an incredible way to keep our thoughts in check and to empower ourselves to lead happier, healthier lives.

In short, we think first, and then we feel.  Our thoughts have an amazing ability to dictate our feelings toward ourselves and our circumstances.  By repeating these affirmations, whether out loud or mentally, we speak a truth into our lives that will eventually become reality.  When we choose to think positively, we release the low-level thoughts and energies that are blocking us from receiving what we desire and what we deserve, and we begin to allow miracles into our lives.

Following is one of my favorite affirmations for finding a sense of grounding and balance.  I love to speak it and share it this time of year, when things have a tendency to get a little chaotic.  Join me by confidently speaking these positive words into your life today!  And don’t hesitate to repeat often!

I am present within myself.

I can center myself with the ease of my breath.

I feel grounded, confident, worthy, and whole.

Candlelight Christmas Yoga

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“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”  -Isaiah 9:6-7

Candlelight Christmas yoga was so magical last night.  We practiced at Sunset Hills Baptist Church, together in the candlelight, listening to some holiday favorites, and meditating on Scripture about the birth of Jesus, our Savior and King.  Because this time of year has a tendency to distract us from the true meaning of Christmas, we focused on grounding, being fully conscious and present in each moment, so that we can turn our attention to what is most important, to the greatest gift of all.  What a beautiful time spent with a beautiful group of people.  I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do what I do!

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.  Your roots will grow down into God’s love and make you strong.”  -Ephesians 3:17

 

 

 

 

Healthier Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Healthier Banana Bread

(makes 1 loaf)


Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup melted Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 cup local Honey
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 extra ripe, mashed, medium Bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp real Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon plus a little more for topping
  • 1 3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 and grease a bread loaf pan (I sprayed with Coconut Oil cooking spray).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil and honey together.
  3. Add eggs and beat well.
  4. Add in the mashed bananas and milk and beat well.
  5. Add in the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon and incorporate well.
  6. Sift in the flour, incorporating well but not over-mixing.
  7. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and sprinkle with additional cinnamon over the top, swirling into the batter slightly if desired.
  8. Bake for about 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool before slicing.

Pulled Pork Ragu over Spaghetti Squash (Instapot Recipe!)

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Instapot Pulled Pork Ragu over Spaghetti Squash 

(Serves 4-6)


First of all, let me start by singing the praises of my Instapot.  I realize I’m a little late to the game here, but I am so excited about this early Christmas present of mine.  It was heavily discounted on Black Friday 🙂  I’ve been playing with it all week, and it truly amazes me how quickly I can create a delicious, yet simple meal with this pressure cooker.  It also functions as a slow cooker, steamer, rice cooker, etc.  And the best part…it has a sauté function so that I don’t have to dirty a separate pan.  Woohoo!  And now, on to the recipe…

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz Pork Tenerloin
  • 1 Spaghetti Squash, roasted, strands pulled out…SEE BELOW FOR RECIPE
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 (12 oz) jar Roasted Peppers, drained
  • EVOO
  • S&P
  • 1 tsp. dried Thyme
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Parsley (separated)
  • 2 Bay Leaves

Directions:

  1. Turn on the Instapot’s Sauté function and add a little EVOO to the pot.  Season pork with S&P.  Sauté pork for 3-4 minutes on each side, until all sides are browned.  Remove meat and set aside.
  2. Add more EVOO to the pot if needed and sauté onions for several minutes, until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and 1/2 Tbsp of the parsley.  Sauté for just a minute, careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. Add tomatoes, peppers, thyme, and bay leaves.
  5. Secure lid on the Instapot and cook under high pressure for 45 minutes.
  6. When finished, allow the steam to release naturally (if possible time-wise, but not a deal-breaker), remove bay leaves, shred pork with two forks, and top with remaining 1/2 Tbsp of parsley.
  7. Serve over Spaghetti Squash (see below for recipe) or pasta, if that’s more your thing 😉

Of course, you can follow this same recipe in the slow cooker or in a Dutch oven on the stove…it will just take a few more hours for the meat to become pull-apart tender.  The benefit of this slower cooking method is that the flavors have a chance to marry for longer.  However, the Instapot is a fantastic option when you are pressed for time and need to get dinner cranked out quickly.  Enjoy!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half length-wise.
  3. Drizzle EVOO on flesh side of both halves and sprinkle them with S&P.
  4. Place halves cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until squash is tender and you can use a fork to pull out strands like spaghetti.

Herby-Balsamic Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies

Chicken and Veggies

Herby-Balsamic Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies

(serves 4)


 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (I used thin sliced)
  • Really any vegetables you have lying around that will roast nicely.  I used:
    • a small bag of organic Rainbow Baby Carrots
    • 1 crown of Broccoli florets
    • About 1 cup of Cauliflower florets
    • 1 medium Onion, cut into about 1 inch pieces with layers separated
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (separated into 1 Tbsp and 2 Tbsp)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Salt & Pepper (S & P)
  • 4 tsp chopped Basil (separated into 2 and 2)
  • 2 tsp chopped Parsley (separated into 1 and 1)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450.  Prepare a cookie sheet pan by spraying with cooking spray (I prefer EVOO spray, which you can find at your local grocery store).
  2. Rinse and dry the chicken breasts well.  Place chicken on the sheet pan and season both sides with S & P.  Top with garlic, 1 Tbsp Balsamic, 1/2 Tbsp EVOO, 2 tsp Basil, and 1 tsp Parsley.  Allow to marinate while you prepare vegetables.
  3. In a large bowl, toss veggies with 2 Tbsp Balsamic, about 1 1/2 Tbsp EVOO, S & P, 2 tsp Basil, and 1 tsp Parsley.  Coat well.
  4. Spread vegetables onto sheet pan with chicken and bake for about 20 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165.

 

‘Tis the Season to Be

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“In a world full of doing, doing, doing, it’s important to take a moment to just breathe, to just be.”  -Unknown

Oh, the holidays.  Chilly nights, twinkling lights, peppermint delights, and Santa Claus sight…ings.  What’s not to love!  Friends and family come together to feast, give, and enjoy one another’s company.  For many, it truly is a magical time filled with love and laughter.

But with the constant hustle and bustle that comes with the holiday season, we are prone to getting overwhelmed, frustrated, and downright depleted.  There are presents to buy and wrap, work projects to finish up, holiday parties and school programs to attend, travel plans to make and take…the to-do list is never-ending.  I won’t tell you to “slow down,” as this may sound to you utterly preposterous.  And I would tend to agree.  However, there are many things we can do to enjoy the season without becoming victim to it.  If we can keep these tips in mind, we can start to shift our mindset from “doing” to “being” and can therefore experience all the beauty that the holidays have to offer.

  1. Remember the true reason for the season.  The presents and parties and goings-on can become a major distraction to this.  Remind yourself that these little celebrations are all in the name of a tiny baby born in a manger in Bethlehem…Jesus, sent to save the souls of man.  This is the greatest gift of all.
  2. Practice gratitude.  When you wake up in the morning, smile.  Take five deep breath cycles, mentally naming one thing you are grateful for with each exhale.  Carry the appreciation you create through this exercise with you throughout your day, maybe giving the exercise a try before bed as well!
  3. Befriend your body.  Give it lots of water, healthy food, sleep, and exercise.  BREATHE.  Your body will repay you in the kindest way, I promise.  Tune in and pay attention when your body tells you it needs rest.  If you can learn to really listen, your body will always tell you what it needs and what it doesn’t.
  4. Learn to say ‘No.”  Please believe me when I say, it is ok if you do not RSVP ‘yes’ to all those invitations.  Sometimes we need to prioritize our schedules so that we can create more time for doing, well, nothing.  Check in with your body and ask yourself, “Which of these do I really want to do and which can I live without?”  And then follow through!
  5. Cultivate mindfulness.  Be present in every moment, noticing how you feel, without placing any judgments or expectations on yourself or on the outcome of the situation.  Note that this is not synonymous with enjoying every moment, because let’s face it…do we really enjoy those shopping mall crowds or when that strand of lights goes kaput?  No.  However, we can still practice awareness and appreciation during these times, and it you look hard enough you may just find a little glimmer of light when it seems as though there is nothing but darkness.  Namaste.

 

 

 

 

Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

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Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 4


 

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 Tbsp. almond flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. (paleo, if desired) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • APPROX 1/2 cup of almond milk (depends on size/amount of potatoes!)
  • S & P

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Boil sweet potatoes until soft for mashing (about 10 minutes) and drain.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, brown the turkey in a fat of your choice (EVOO, ghee, coconut oil…), being sure to season with S & P.  Once cooked thoroughly, transfer turkey to a plate and set aside.
  4. Add more fat to the pan and sauté the carrots and onions, seasoning with S & P, until soft.
  5. Add the garlic and the peas and sauté for a couple minutes, until fragrant.
  6. Add the almond flour, mixing well, and let cook for a couple minutes.
  7. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  8. Add the turkey back into the pan, along with the Worcestershire, rosemary and thyme, and turn heat down to simmer until the sauce thickens.
  9. To finish the potatoes, mash them with the coconut oil and almond milk.  Add the milk SLOWLY, paying attention to the consistency of the potatoes.  You may not need to use the full 1/2 cup.  Season with salt.
  10. Put the turkey mixture into a square baking dish and top with the mashed sweet potatoes.
  11. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.  After the 25 minutes, turn the oven up to broil in order to brown the potatoes slightly.  Don’t let it burn!
  12. Enjoy this delicious and healthy comfort food as much as I do!

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