Thank you my friends at 4 Divas 1 Show for allowing me to share a small part of the Yoga I have practised and studied!  Please visit www.sivananda.org for a more information on Hatha Yoga and e-mail me at shayna@liveyoungnutrition.com to sign up for classes starting October 1st at Emerging Butterflies Yoga Studio in Brampton.
 
 
 
 
This wonderful post was written by my gorgeous friend Melanie who was inspired to share her experiences of Yoga Food Music!

I attended the sixth Yoga Food Music (Yoga Ahaar Sangeet) Event this Sunday in downtown Toronto. I’ve been to all of them thus far and as long as I’m in the country I will continue to go.  I always leave there feeling more inspired and more alive! These are moments I live for to truly experience something by opening yourself up and just absorbing it all.  It is this richness of events like Yoga Food Music that make my life a colorful one.

Let me break it down for you…

Yoga
The yoga warms you up, you start to become more present and eventually what you carried with you from the day, the week, isn’t as heavy. Your mind is a little quieter and you feel a little lighter.

Food- The food is amazing and always shared over good conversation with like-minded people!
Event organizers, Shayna Young and Jonathan Kay, prepared a wonderful Holistic lunch of South Indian food from Tamil Nadu. Together their cooking styles blend and create the most delicious meal that makes every cell in your body beam! The spices warm your heart, the freshness and flavors just make your soul smile.  It so different form what you’re used to it turns eating an exciting adventure of the palate!

The menu of the day:
  • Sambar (vegetable lentil stew)
  • Rasam (spiced soup)
  • Idli (fermented & steamed rice cakes)
  • Bean Poriyal (dry bean curry with ground lentils)
  • Coconut Kale Channa Masala (chickpea curry)
  • Pani Puri- everyone’s favourite! Pastry shells filled with mixed sprouts, sweet potato, onion, fresh coriander, and chickpeas with a hint of sweet and spicy tamarind chutney and a touch of curd (yoghurt) all drowned in mint, coriander, spiced pani (water)
  • Fresh Coconut
  • Coriander Coconut Chutney
  • Green Tea
  • Almond Milk Spiced Chai

The after meal paan is what I enjoyed the most!  Paan (pawn) is a preparation of aromatic herbs all folded into a betel leaf we added:
  • Betel Nut
  • Coconut
  • Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Green cardamom
  • Fennel
  • Gullkand (Rose petal sugar)
This was my first time trying paan and it was a lot of fun to make!  It is used after a meal to help with digestion and give your mouth a fresh taste. Once you stuff the leaf you close up and place it in the corner of your mouth, tucking it into your cheek. You’re supposed to slowly chew away on it.

Music
You start to listen to the music of instruments you may have never seen or heard before; it is so beautiful! You just close your eyes and let the sound lift you. You can feel yourself get lighter and lighter with every note like a flow of love and gratitude surging through your body.  Just being there and sharing in the energy of the music makes you radiate with joy from the inside out.

The very talented musicians preformed two styles of North Indian Hindustani Classical Raga Music called Khayal and Bhajan.  I really appreciated being able to sit directly in front of the musicians while they played; it truly connected me to the music in the most intimate way.
  • Jonathan Kay – Tenor and soprano saxophone
  • Andrew Kay – Alto Saxophone
  • Justin Gray – Bass Veena
  • Ravi Naimpally – Tabla
This event was dedicated to the late musician Pandit Ravi Shankar who passed away last week. He was and will forever be the world’s premier sitar Maestro. He came to America from India in the 60’s and, along with the help of George Harrison from the Beatles, brought Indian Classical music to the West and the World.

As a special guest we were very lucky to have Som Naimpally, mathematician and Indian Classical lover, there to speak about the life of Pandit Ravi Shankar.  He shared with us his memories of sitting directly in front of Ravi Shankar in performance, and the journey of dance and music that was Ravi Shankar’s life.   Mr. Naimpally spoke with such a fond lightness to him that his words made us feel as if we were all at the amazing concerts of the great Ravi Shankar.

You always head home from Yoga Ahaar Sangeet knowing that you just nourished your mind, body and soul. We need gatherings like this; the kind that leave you feeling a little lighter and filled with a little more love.

I’m very glad to share this with you just as it has been shared with me.
Namaste <3
Melanie

For more of Melanie's posts please visit melanieyoga.wordpress.com

 
 
Why do we eat?       

        An athlete may answer the question of why they eat by saying they eat for energy, strength, and stamina, all in all to perform their best.  No matter what your professional designation in life, we all need to look to this answer, and realize it applies to all of us.

It has to do with performing your best.  In the case of an athlete this may be realized at the physical level of being able to jump higher, run faster, or bike longer.  However, in the case of athletes, and everyone else, it may be applied in a mental sense, to think clearer, react faster, or focus longer.  And still for certain people it may mean a spiritual sense of being able to, stay in a state of meditation longer, generate a stronger life force, or better cultivate compassion toward others. All of these aspects need proper nutrition in order to be preformed to the best of our abilities.

So what is proper nutrition, what is food?  The Oxford English dictionary describes food as, “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink in order to maintain life and growth.”  Thus the substances found in food like products that do not help us to “maintain life and growth”, are therefore NOT food.
 
 
        The skin is the largest human organ and acts as a barrier between our bodies and the external world. Overall the skin averages about 1 millimeter thick but makes up about 16% of our body weight. The epidermis, or the layer of skin exposed to the elements, contains keratins and proteins resistant to environmental toxins, physical stress, UV light, and temperature.  Our skin’s surface is home to flora or bacteria that secrete pH-lowering substances creating a chemical barrier on our skin that deters pathogenic microorganisms from penetrating it.  Located at the bottom of the epidermis is the basal layer, a single celled layer that includes melanocytes, that give the skin is pigmentation to protect us from UV light, as well as Langerhans cells, that play a role in the immune system. The basal layer is also the primary source for vitamin D synthesis in the body.  Vitamin D is a pre-hormone that regulates calcium and phosphate levels in the blood and is a component in communication between white blood cells.  Vitamin D is also critical for calcium regulation required for bone health, as well as muscle contraction, nerves, and a host of other functions. The epidermis regeneration starts from the basal layer and from there, cells are pushed to the top gradually over about 30 days.  The dermas, located just beneath the epidermis, accommodates the sensors for touch, pressure, heat, and pain and is the home for collagen, elastin, and reticular fibers that provide the skin with strength and elasticity.  You can also find sweat, oil glands, and hair follicles here.  Under the dermas in the hypodermis are lymph, nerve, vein, artery, and capillary channels.  In many areas the capillaries are so tiny only one blood cell can fit through at a time. 

The skin is a diverse multi-dimensional organ and must be cared for as such. It is important to note that the skin is a detection center.  As an elimination organ wastes are carried to the skin more so when other channels are overloaded or blocked.  Any change in the skins appearance or operation is an indication that regular function of the body has been compromised. From the delicate nature of its sensitivity, through to the tough soles of our feet, the skin is a mirror for the hidden internal world that is our body.  Its notification of possible underlying problems gives us a visible alert and prompts us to clean up nutritional imbalances and clear up the skin. 

 
 
        Okra, Abelmoschus esculentus, bhindi, gumbo, or lady’s finger, is a transient wild herb that uprooted from its disputed Asian origins and made it to every nook of the globe.  Okra has established itself as a staple in many ethnic dishes from India to the United States.  Okra is everything I wanted OKRA skin care to be, diverse, transformative and healing, boasting an array of wonderful nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, niacin, calcium, iron, and an abundant amount of soluble fiber.  It’s mucilaginous properties and rich antioxidants make it a perfect healing plant for the skin inside and out.     
 
 

Out of Station (Away from Home)

It has now been nearly three months since I left for Kokata and it's been a wonderful turn thus far in India.  I'm returning to the beginning of my time here and starting off with this entry as the initiation to my life in India.  My time here thus far has been spent in travel and in upcoming chapters I'll get into the cultural regions and cities I've visited from Kerela in the south to Darjeeling in the north.  I will also touch on all of the inspirational aspects that brought me to India; Ayurveda, Holistic Health, Yoga, and, as I've mentioned at the end of this entry, Indian music.

     It began with the wrong exit off the highway, the wrong terminal, wrong direction on “the link”, and the wrong cue.  My Dad and I were obviously tired, and not paying enough attention.  Not that last night was crazy or anything, unless you think a rousing family game of Wizard is an over the top way to spend New Year’s Eve.

The woman waved me through the security scanner and looked down from my face to the charm of

 
 

Toxic Travel

It seemed only fitting that on Friday the 13th I was in the presence of such an extreme amount of toxic material that I could only be in a landfill or in India. Today we were traveling to Agartala, the capital of the Indian state of Tripura on the eastern side of Bangladesh.

Early morning we arrived at Gurujis and set out to find taxis. "He barely got it started, but we need a taxi and it's working now", was the comment from Justin as we piled into the rickety old taxi.  It was the worst taxi ride to date.  The exhaust, instead of retreating through some kind of exhaust system, was expelling into the cab of the vehicle.  Regulations on vehicles are loose and, especially in the case of these cabs, rarely followed.  The choking inhalation of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, mixed with the pooja incense burning on the front dash, made it nearly impossible to breathe. 

Kolkata is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.  The Grater Kolkata Area is approximately

 
 

Tradition in New Light


It was only a few short weeks after I arrived when I found myself at the airport again, this time to collect my Mum. Jonathan and I had already been hosting friends Chris and Laura and now we had seven people in and out of our two-bedroom apartment.  I had thoughts of how my Mum might react to this place but I didn't want to speculate too much.  As you may have suspected her first comment was about the filth, garbage, grime, and grit, but the awesome colours and delightful people quickly seconded that.  Our time in Kolkata was spent exploring our home.  A walk through the village south of the apartment resulted in photos of water buffalo, cow patties, and construction.  It is these things that I would like to discover with you as a source of resourcefulness and tradition.

Exploring the streets near my home I see brick walls built to surround small plots of land that are covered