<![CDATA[Live Young Nutrition - BLOG, NOTES & POETRY]]>Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:07:37 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Yoga with Shayna]]>Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:09:10 GMThttp://liveyoungnutrition.com/blog-notes--poetry/yoga-with-shaynaThank 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.
<![CDATA[How to make Indian Chai Tea]]>Sat, 23 Aug 2014 23:18:10 GMThttp://liveyoungnutrition.com/blog-notes--poetry/how-to-make-indian-chai-tea
<![CDATA[The 6th Yoga Ahaar Sangeet!]]>Sun, 16 Dec 2012 13:13:44 GMThttp://liveyoungnutrition.com/blog-notes--poetry/the-6th-yoga-ahaar-sangeet
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…

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.

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

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

<![CDATA[Why Do We Eat?]]>Mon, 11 Jun 2012 08:51:25 GMThttp://liveyoungnutrition.com/blog-notes--poetry/why-do-we-eat
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.
I think Michael Pollen had the right idea in his book In Defence of Food.  There is so much out there that is marketed as “food” that indeed is not “food” that nutritious food needs to be explained and defended.  Thus before we eat we have to take the time to differentiate between nutritious food and those things on the market that have no place being on our plates.

How do we know what is food and what is not?

This question is getting harder and harder to answer every day, especially when seemingly “regular” food items like vegetables are sprayed, irradiated, and genetically modified.  It’s also difficult when, advertising promotes false health claims, industry fails to give us a straight answer, and we’re too busy to dig for the truth but there is hope!  It’s impossible to research every company we buy products from, so start with buying less processed foods. Begin to seek out organic fruit, vegetables, and meats.  Find whole raw nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.  Buy organic non-GMO dried lentils, beans, and other legumes.  For a host of awesome food tips grab Michael Pollen’s book Food Rules.

Food is supposed to help us stay healthy, to help our bodies and minds function at their best.  Give yourself the best fuel, consume in moderation, drink water when you think you need a snack, and look to whole foods before processed when looking for food that is indeed food. 

Excerpts from Food Rules by Michael Pollan:

#11 Avoid foods you see advertised on television.
Food marketers are ingenious at turning criticisms of their products—and rules like these—into new ways to sell slightly different versions of the same processed foods: They simply reformulate (to be low-fat, have no HFCS or transfats, or to contain fewer ingredients) and then boast about their implied healthfulness, whether the boast is meaningful or not. The best way to escape these marketing ploys is to tune out the marketing itself, by refusing to buy heavily promoted foods. Only the biggest food manufacturers can afford to advertise their products on television: More than two thirds of food advertising is spent promoting processed foods (and alcohol), so if you avoid products with big ad budgets, you’ll automatically be avoiding edible foodlike substances. As for the 5 percent of food ads that promote whole foods (the prune or walnut growers or the beef ranchers), common sense will, one hopes, keep you from tarring them with the same brush—these are the exceptions that prove the rule.

#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.

#36 Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
This should go without saying. Such cereals are highly processed and full of refined carbohydrates as well as chemical additives.

#47 Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
For many of us, eating has surprisingly little to do with hunger. We eat out of boredom, for entertainment, to comfort or reward ourselves. Try to be aware of why you’re eating, and ask yourself if you’re really hungry—before you eat and then again along the way. (One old wive’s test: If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not hungry.) Food is a costly antidepressant.

#58 Do all your eating at a table.
No, a desk is not a table. If we eat while we’re working, or while watching TV or driving, we eat mindlessly—and as a result eat a lot more than we would if we were eating at a table, paying attention to what we’re doing. This phenomenon can be tested (and put to good use): Place a child in front of a television set and place a bowl of fresh vegetables in front of him or her. The child will eat everything in the bowl, often even vegetables that he or she doesn’t ordinarily touch, without noticing what’s going on. Which suggests an exception to the rule: When eating somewhere other than at a table, stick to fruits and vegetables.
<![CDATA[The Skin Is...]]>Fri, 01 Jun 2012 15:27:13 GMThttp://liveyoungnutrition.com/blog-notes--poetry/post-title-click-and-type-to-edit
        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. 

<![CDATA[What is Okra?]]>Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:28:45 GMThttp://liveyoungnutrition.com/blog-notes--poetry/what-is-okra
        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.     
<![CDATA[Out of Station (Away from Home)]]>Sat, 12 May 2012 07:37:53 GMThttp://liveyoungnutrition.com/blog-notes--poetry/out-of-station-away-from-home

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
Buddha hanging around my neck, she smiled and simply said “Buddha?” The simplest security check ever.  The flights, all four (yes 4), went seamlessly, and as I walked out of the terminal I was greeted by the Kay brothers discreetly standing on a wall, accentuating their stature, waving to me; I had arrived in Kolkata with every blessing.

What a feeling to be back in this place, none will be as striking as my first cab ride to our place in south Kolkata, but this time felt more homey.  The streets off the main bypass leading to our apartment are riddled with ruts, potholes, mud, and construction materials, making our ride slow and cautious.  Outside our gate Jonathan went to pull by bags from the back of the antique cab, instantly revealing to us why you let your cabbie get your bag, cracking his head on the trunk lid as it came crashing down; cabbies know their car the best.  Once inside I grabbed my Q-tips, baby wipes, and Nature’s Aid skin gel; the cut was a good one but no stitches needed thank goodness.  It was nearly two in the morning but we were up for a bit making curd (yogurt) for the morning, and having a few homemade cookies I’d made.  The humid night air enveloped the apartment, the temperature stayed cool but by no means cold.  The morning came with the throngs of construction workers clanging away just meters from our windows.  As I sit now hearing the sounds of this place muffled by the welling tones of saxophones I feel all the blessings of India envelop me.
I go to Kishan market in our neighbourhood and I stand at the open side of the verity store while the woman gathers the items we want.  I am here but realistically I can fly to Canada any time and never have to walk through garbage, mud, or pass a puppy in a standoff with a cow on the street to buy coconut oil and eggs.  All kinds of people live here including our Guruji (teacher) who lives a mere minute walk from our flat.  Others work in the city commuting on their motorcycles; some are taxi driers, labourers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, and schoolchildren.  We live in a second floor apartment, two bedrooms, two baths, and a good size living dining area with a small kitchen.  We have the most beautiful marble floors and granite countertops, both abundant materials here.  Every window has a ledge with room for potted cacti.  I am still getting settled here, as I shuffle things around to make room for my own.  

On my first night here Jonathan and Andrew and I were invited to a private concert at the family house of one of India’s foremost sweet makers K C Das.  We were treated to the music of the Kolkata Music Academy Chamber Orchestra playing music from Handel and Mozart, to The Beatles and Bob Dylan, through to Indian Rabindrasangeet music.  After dinner was served Jonathan and Andrew played Like Someone in Love, Body and Soul and a blues.  Next visit they have insisted that I sing for their family, I will be only to happy to as upon our leaving the joyous evening we were presented with platters of sweets, flowers and a car to take us all the way back to our apartment.  The next evening again was filled with excitement as we traveled to our Guruji’s daughter, Mitra’s, school to see the artistic presentations from the students there.  Beautiful paintings adorned the walls and several groups of students preformed children’s songs on keyboards. Vendors selling sarees (the Indian ladies dress), jewelry and other handicrafts were set up in the schoolyard and I picked up a saree and a tunic that I can wear to concerts in India. 

 Friday night marked the evening of the, 14th annual Sangeetacharya Radhika Mohan Maitreya Memorial Conference featuring Kushal Das and Kalyanjit Das on Sitar accompanied by Subhankar Banerjee on tabla.  

The fragrance of marigolds envelops the theatre wafting around on sweet sitar sound.  Father and son in matching kurta (men’s long tunic) jugalbandi (duet) their way through the alaap (free opening section), building Raga Malkauns (a collection of melodies) with inspiration from the divine.  The spirits of maestros (great musicians) past reside with us, commemorated with photos like alters on the stage.  Garlands of marigolds loop across the front of the stage and hang to frame the program banner behind the musicians.  The audience is attentive, captivated, transported and thrown into unanimous applause with each thunderous tihai (rhythmic cadence).  No concert is complete without checking the sur (tuning).  Unison lines usher in the tabla (Indian drum).  The sharp light of a video camera panning the audience blinds me.  Outside the government concert hall, between acts, are many walas (sellers) peddling snacks and chai.  Around me sit the maestros of tomorrow, the shishyas (students), eagerly attentive to each line and movement.  The tablas jump from their resting cushions as the tabla solo builds.  Thirsty for more taans (musical phrase), like parched parishioners waiting for the preacher, we drink in the raga pouring the melodious stream of music into our beings in true Indian fashion, without allowing the mouth of the vessel grace the lip, a steady stream of bliss.

My time in India will always be surrounded by music and if you want to learn more about Raga music please visit Monsoon-music's blog http://blog.travelpod.com/members/monsoon-music.  My next entry will include my trip to Agartala, the capital of the state of Tripura India located on the eastern side of Bangladesh. 

Health and Happiness
<![CDATA[Toxic Travel]]>Sat, 12 May 2012 07:36:30 GMThttp://liveyoungnutrition.com/blog-notes--poetry/toxic-travel

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
3 times smaller than the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with a population 2.5 times (@14.1 million) that of the GTA.  This density of living, without refined regulation of air, water, or land pollution, riddles the environment with filth.  Why would I ever want to spend any time here?  It is within the extremities that the most miraculous of events and concepts take shape.  Ayurveda, the Indian system of healing, is the perfect response to dealing with intake of environmental pollutants.  Not all Indians abide by the practices of Ayurveda and you can tell by all the snorting spitting and expulsion of particulate filled phlegm in many areas of India.  The simplest remedy for this buildup of air pollutants in the nose is outlined in the Ayurvedic practice of Jala Neti; the process of cleansing the nasal passage with salt water.  The incorporation of this practice in everyday routine helps ensure that the nasal passage is not only clear but also working to efficiently purify warm the air that reaches the lungs.  Essentially, Jala Neti involves introducing salt water in through one nostril which travels through the nasal cavity, and out the opposite nostril.  It's a simple, short process that takes no more than 5 minutes.  The outlook on this process, when approached for the first time, must be one of non-judgment.  Put your mind at ease.  The more you think, the more difficult the idea of even trying this beneficial practice will be.  Cleansing in this way helps the immunological, germicidal mucus membrane in your nasal cavity stay healthy in order to function optimally as a remover of particulates and germs in the air.  As I depicted earlier there are many pollutants in the air in Kolkata.  Being sure your respiratory system is working optimally is a must.

Combating pollution is exhausting especially when I voluntarily add the stress of air travel.  Because Agartala is on the eastern side of Bangladesh, the only sane option of getting there from Kolkata is flying.  It’s a short flight but even in that time the body is faced with dry air, cosmic radiation, constant motion, possible disinsection treatment (before and/or while passengers are on board), altitude pressure changes, reduced oxygen levels, and gas expansion.  No wonder that even after a short flight I feel exhausted.  Again Ayurveda, an ancient wisdom, comes to the rescue for a modern issue.  Every Ayurvedic book starts the same way with an explanation of Ayurveda or Science of Life and the three doshas or governing forces of life.  These doshas; vata, pitta, and kapha, are found in varying amounts in everyone and must be kept in balance to keep the body free of dis-ease. Vata is the dosha representative of air and space, movement, and dryness.  It is easy to see how the complications of air travel specifically throw it out of whack. To balance vata, hydrate by drinking plenty of water, keep nasal passages and skin supple with organic sesame oil or a good salve, and abstain from alcoholic beverages. To combat cosmic radiation (a bigger issue if you fly frequently), motion stress, and possible insecticides we can look to supplements like triphala.  Triphala is a blend of three fruits that symbiotically work in the body to balance the doshas.  It contains high amounts of antioxidants, especially vitamin C, and aids in detoxifying the body. Rhodiola is an herb native to the arctic regions of Tibet and Russia and has proven to support the body in times of decreased oxygen levels, fatigue, and altitude stress.  Providing the body with proper circulation while in flight also helps to balance vata so be sure to get up and take a walk and make sure your breathing is slow, deep, and relaxed. 

Agartala is a simple place rarely visited by foreigners. In fact, they keep a physical tally in the registration office at the airport of how many have come and gone over the years.  The numbers, especially for North American and European visitors, are tiny. No surprise then that when I entered the office for this visit they recognized me from my previous visit three years ago. 

We were greeted at the airport by our friends from Aalor Pathe, a children’s Indian classical music organization that Shantanuji (Guruji) has been tutoring for about 5 years.  Adorned with flowers, we were whisked away to the Sri Anandamayi Ma ashram where Guruji would be performing that evening. We were introduced to Swamiji as students of honored guest Shantanuji, and were invited for to stay for a private lunch.  Before we sat to eat I took a closer look at a datura bush in the garden.  As I learned from Swamiji, it is quite poisonous and used in Ayurveda cautiously and sparingly.  Upon further investigation, the only reference I’ve found to this plant in Ayurveda is in connection with abortion, toxic indeed.  As we took our places to eat I couldn’t help but notice the assault on my olfaction; the scent of chemical cleaners was nauseating.  I understand the need for cleanliness and elimination of harmful bacteria but not at the expense of polluting the environment with harsh toxins.  Many ingredients used in these cleaners are known carcinogens, considered to be at "safe" levels for moderate use of a product.  This partial picture fails to present the landscape of the entire portrait.  First the initial contact fails to include the probability that if someone is using one chemical cleaner they are more than likely using other chemicals as well, thus not taking into account the total buildup of all chemicals combined or the reaction (synergy) that they might have with each other.  Second is chemical accumulation.  The residual environmental effects of using such products are substantial.  The earth is capable of detoxifying itself but not at a rate that will keep this overpopulated earth healthy.  Chemicals introduced in an isolated area are easily spread through air and water currents to anywhere, destroying the delicate composition of all living things. Due to the high estrogenic properties of many chemicals they are especially adept at disrupting the endocrine system and have been known to cause mutations in sex from male to female in marine life and increase the probability of female offspring.  Many of these chemicals are lipophilic meaning that they like fats and thus in the body are stored in your fat cells.  For many of us that carry a few extra pounds, this can be a huge problem when we finally decide that enough is enough and start changing our lifestyles and shed weight.  All of the toxins that our body safeguarded us against by hiding them in our fat cells are now being released into the body.  Proper elimination of toxins is crucial and the Ayurvedic Panchakarma (five actions) detoxification supports the body in rejuvenation.  The Panchakarma system, supervised by Ayurvedic parishioners, is a complex but effective system that I will leave for the moment but, if you’re so inclined let me know and I’ll provide more information.

Lunch was served and so delicious!  Many courses of vegetable curries, paneer, dhal, rice and curd were served.  Too much food in fact and this will be my last toxic detail.  I think it’s inherent in every culture that to be a hospitable host you must feed your guest as much as possible. Indian society is no different with rich food high in carbohydrates refined sugar, and enough rice to build the Taj Mahal.  My first point is in regards to my physical size and the size I intend to stay.  Whenever I sit down to eat I am inevitably served the same amount of food that is given to a man twice my size.  It is the most difficult thing to refuse food, and even considered rude to many people.  I never mean to offend anyone but I have learned to only accept what I know I can eat.  The second issue is in regards to the type of food. Many dishes especially reserved for guests are very heavy on the digestive system, loaded with oxidized fats and sugars.  Not only are these foods taxing your body of nutrients, promoting fat cell construction, and wreaking havoc on blood sugar levels, they are also making it extremely difficult for your digestive system to work.  Just as many cultures will feed you heartily they will also give you a million remedies for digestive issues of all sorts.  Again Ayurveda as well as Yoga give us some good tricks in case we feel we must eat everything.  I will mention triphala again as it is a mild laxative that helps tone the intestinal tract.  Fennel is often provided in the form of saunf after meals in India to curb digestive bloating and gas.  Yoga asanas are always advised against until 3 hours after taking food but there is one posture vajrasana (thunderbolt or diamond pose) that is highly advisable after meals.  This relaxing asana is conducive to proper back posture and simulates the digestive process.  It may take a while for you to feel the comfort of sitting on your heels but you can defiantly feel how it straightens your back. 

That night we were treated to Shantanuji’s wondrous rendering of raga music as well as Monsoon trio.  The concert, as always, ran late but the audience was attentive, taking in every note as a cleansing of the soul.  The next few days in Agartala were spent in lessons with the Aalor Pathe children learning new compositions from Guruji.  These lessons are a cornucopia of raga wisdom, overflowing with invaluable information that will feed the development of the student’s musicality for lifetimes to come.  As we said good-bye to our friends in Agartala, I thought of the bombardment travel to come.  But with the right tools to keep my doshas balanced, I know I’ll stay healthy.

I welcome my Mum to Kolkata next entry and take a trip to Shantiniketan, home of Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore. 
<![CDATA[Tradition in New Light]]>Sat, 12 May 2012 07:35:32 GMThttp://liveyoungnutrition.com/blog-notes--poetry/tradition-in-new-light

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
in round disks of cow dung.  Further down the lane is a water buffalo shed, open stalls with several buffalo in each one.  Behind the shed is a huge cesspool of manure, and thigh deep in the dung are two girls no older than 12 scooping up the precious slop by hand and heaving it back into one of the stalls.  Beside the cowshed is a bamboo-thatched workspace with an exhaust pipe sticking out the side.  Inside is a noisy machine that chips straw into small pieces that will be mixed with the dung.  Women fold the straw in with the dung until its consistency holds together just so.  They carry the wet fuel, hoisting baskets of it over their heads, to an open plot or wall where they form it into patties and slap it into place to dry, leaving a perfect hand print in the centre of every patty.  These disks, once dry, are carefully peeled off walls, trees, and ground and are creatively stacked, stored, or immediately used for fuel.  So why on earth would the Indians use cow dung for cooking fuel? The best tools are the ones you can source locally and in India the logic of utilizing products within your environment in a sustainable way is still very present.  Trees and firewood are scarce and expensive to use for everyday cooking, however cow dung is very inexpensive, effective, and plentiful. Cow dung is also used for building insulating walls that keep out the heat, and smoldered as a mosquito repellent.  The cow in Hindu tradition developed into a sacred deity that for many decades has been exempted from slaughter for food.  It is believed that the products the cow provides as a living being are more integral tools for the Hindu people.  The cow provides obviously more than just dung, the people also look to the cow for milk, from witch they produce ghee, and curd. 

It depends where you are in this vast country as to what kinds of milk products predominate.  As you might have guessed in the north in the Himalayas you’ll find more butter than ghee, and in the south vice versa, and for a good reason.  Most people live without a fridge, and that means in the south butter would spoil, or it might become so hot it turns itself into ghee.  The traditional process of producing ghee is a heating of butter, cooking out of the impurities that would cause spoilage. Once the butter is clarified in this way it will keep up to two months without refrigeration.  So even for those of us who have a fridge, why would you use ghee instead of butter?  Ghee has a higher heat tolerance, or a higher smoke point, why, because it lacks the impurities or milk solids of butter that cause it burn at a lower temperature.  So you can get the heat you need for a flash fry or sauté and still preserve the integrity of your oil.  Yes ghee is an oil/milk fat/saturated fatty acid and no, it’s not inherently bad for you.  Just as controversy carries on over butter vs. margarine so does the lack of understanding behind fat.  I’m not saying that you should eat ghee exclusively but I am saying that, once you have a better understanding of fats and their importance in the body you won’t be afraid to pitch the "healthy" margarine.  For the full truth on fats look for, “Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill” by Udo Erasmus.  In the south the same holds true about milk as it does for butter, in order for it not to spoil they decided to produce a product that would last just a little bit longer, this time curd or yogurt.  The idea of introducing a bacterial culture to milk to intentionally let it “spoil” producing yogurt is ingenious.  Not only can you keep your milk in a warm or downright hot environment but you also get a sour cooling byproduct that provides beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract that boosts the immune system.  Living in India it has become a custom in our home to produce curd for the following day, every night.  Bring milk to a boil, allow the temperature to drop so you can withstand holding your fingertip in for 3 seconds, add a teaspoon or so of yogurt to the milk, and let it stand in a warm insulated environment overnight.  People utilize and create milk products in conductivity to the environment.  Thus the products serve a twofold benefit to the environment and the people. They work within the external temperature of the environment produce useful products that suit the body’s internal environment.         

An extensive network of poles create an exoskeleton surrounding 3 story homes and apartments popping up in our neighborhood, but they also reach high above the Kolkata skyline in the massive construction of condo and office buildings.  Bamboo is a grass that is famous for its fast growing nature and use in multiple applications.  It is in such abundance in India that you’d be hard pressed to go without seeing it, in it recognizable form, in a day.  As if I’m situated in a gallery, witnessing art insulation in the process of creation, I watch as acrobatic workers in flip-flops or bear feet hand fasten together bamboo scaffolding with strips of cloth.  They come down with a deconstructive dismantling crash as skillfully as they went up, slowly reveling the finished construction contained within.  I marvel at the production and use of bamboo construction materials.  Long poles are skillfully reduced to strips that are woven into giant mats used for siding of more “temporary” style structures.  Bamboo poles are used to make ladders and fastened together to create framework and rafters.  Bamboo structures are put up and taken down for every pooja, wedding, and celebration.  Between the bypass and the riverbank is a plethora of makeshift homes that make up a tiny slum, almost completely fabricated out of bamboo.  It is used in every economic situation from the most elaborate of weddings to the humblest of roadside vendors; it is used to make lateens over the river, and beautiful décor for the rich.   It is a scarcity to find bamboo in the kitchen in India however the tasty shoot morsals have worked their way into Karnatak Indian cooking providing fiber, potassium, and antioxidants working as an anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti cancer exotic food.  Its economical and ecological viability have infiltrated every aspect of life so thoroughly that I could not possibly give you a breakdown of every bamboo application, however, and most importantly to me, bamboo is used to make music.  The whispering tones of the Indian bamboo bansuri, or flute, have wound their way into many different styles of music throughout India.  Bamboo is the backbone for dozens of different string instruments and drums, most of which I’ve likely never seen nor heard. The infinite creative genius within this elegant grass transcends time and tradition through to the modern age.   

I’m with my Mum and Jonathan and the train stops at one of the many stations that dot the Indian countryside from Kolkata to Shantiniketan.  Often vendors travel the rails selling their wears, witch can be just about anything you can think of, and many things you wouldn’t, like mothballs.  But stepping on the train, at the opposite end of our car, is a man carrying a strange one stringed instrument that looks like a drum with a bamboo pole fastened to it.  He starts to play and sing, methodically he travels the whole car before accepting any tips.  So begins our journey to Baul country, the cultural creative centre of Shantiniketan.  The Bauls are a linage of mystic minstrels that have carried out a specific style of Bengali folk music on instruments like the ektara we saw on the train, ektara literally meaning one string.  Rabindernath Tagore, the man who put the Bengal and Shantiniketan on the world map was greatly influenced by the Bauls and wrote many poems and songs with them in mind. In 1913 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature after his poetry Gitanjali: Song Offerings was translated into English.  

“Art thou abroad on this stormy night on thy journey of love, my friend?  The sky groans like one in despair.
I have no sleep to-night.  Ever and again I open my door and lookout on the darkness, my friend!
I can see nothing before me. I wonder where lies thy path!
By what dim shore of the ink-black river, by what far edge of the frowning forest, through what mazy depth of gloom art thou threading thy course to come to me, my friend?”  ~Gitanjali 1912

 “Who are you, reader, reading my poems a hundred years hence?  I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.  Open your doors and look abroad.  From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of a hundred years before.  In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across a hundred years.” ~ The Gardener, 1915

 Tagore held a distaste for classroom learning comparing it to, “"The Parrot's Training", a bird is caged and force-fed textbook pages—to death…”. (Wikipedia) This prompted him to develop his own education system that looks at learning in a revolutionary light. The Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, founded by Tagore himself, brought a more personal and responsible relationship between the student and the teacher much like the Indian musical or spiritual relationship between Guru and shishya (teacher and student).  He also brought the lessons to an outside more organic environment and developed tangible applicatory lesson plans.  The idea to allow the traditional Indian sharing of wisdom to transcend and transform the more western schooling system in place in India, is the epitome of tradition in new light.

Shantiniketan brought a beautiful perspective of India to my Mum.  Our guesthouse host was phenomenal bringing in his Baul musician friends for us to meet and jam with (go to Baul Wikipedia and the 1st photo is our new Baul friend!), providing all our delicious meals, and sharing a night of music with Jonathan and I with the Bauls in the village.  I continue to look for the wisdom of Indian tradition in modern times and will continue my journey to Darjeeling, the light of Tibetan culture.