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BALANCING THE NERVOUS SYSTEM THROUGH OUR SENSES

Have you ever paused to truly feel your body’s and mind’s reactions after a good meal, massage, yoga class, or a beautiful sunset? And I mean like really concentrated on the feelings and sensations these events evoke in you. Have you noticed how your body reacts after watching a violent movie, listening to loud music, or wearing uncomfortable clothes the whole day?

Spending time in nature is one of the best ways to support your nervous system and through that, your inner balance.

We are continuously influenced by our environment. Our modern life often is fast paced and the amount of information our senses receive is huge! This leads to an overload of challenging situations and lessens the comforting circumstances. When this balance between pressure and calm, stress and relaxation is disturbed we loose the sense of inner equanimity. Most of the time our senses reach outwards gathering information from our surroundings. Through this outer input, we interpret the world around us as either safe, neutral, or threatening.

All that stimulation and information can have two kinds of effects on our nervous system; agitating or calming.

Loud noises, feeling cold or hot, ugly smells, disorder, and uncomfortable fabrics on our skin all contribute to an agitated and overloaded nervous system. If we sense our immediate environment being threatening and dangerous, our fight-or-flight reaction is switched on. This activation of the sympathetic nervous system washes our body with stress hormones. When these patterns repeat themselves our day-to-day life becomes stressful. And we become chronically stressed.

But, our daily life doesn’t have to be like that. We have a choice. There is a common need for tranquil, healing, and deep relaxation and countless ways to reach this blissful state of calm and connection.

In yoga, especially in meditation, we learn to withdraw ourselves from the outer world and bring our senses into our inner world. This gives us an invaluable opportunity to gather important information from our inner state and observe the effects of our surroundings on ourselves. When we become aware of how we feel and why we feel in a certain way we can make choices that improve our wellbeing. This awareness can only be reached when we turn inwards and give our senses a brake from the oftentimes hectic outer world and learn to FEEL. Yoga cultivates our ability to feel what’s good for us and what isn’t. Then, we can take action and reduce the input of stressors and introduce more of the things that make us feel good and calm.

Meditation allows us to draw our senses inwards and become the masters of our mind. Using essential oils in meditation can help to you to feel more relaxed and in connection with your intuition.

The same way our nervous system can be agitated through our senses we can also calm the nervous system through our five senses. Choosing calming music over hectic one, sitting in silence instead of walking through a busy city, or doing restorative yoga instead of going for a run are choices that will soothe an agitated nervous system. Surrounding ourselves with beautiful things we automatically feel better, more balanced, and in harmony with our surroundings.

Watching a sunset, having flowers in your home, wearing comfortable clothes, taking (or giving) a massage, spending time in a harmonious space, listening to uplifting and calming music, hugging a loved one, diffusing essential oils, and spending time in nature are all things that nurture our nervous system and reduce stress. When we interpret our surroundings to be pleasant and peaceful, we have a response of calm and connection and our stress levels immediately drop. Our body is now flooded with feel good hormones like oxytocin and we have reached a state of inner balance.

In the end, it’s all about balance. We need stressors to grow and become stronger (physically and mentally) and we need relaxation so that we can restore, recover, and heal. When these systems of stress and release are in balance we can face the challenging situations in our everyday life with more calmness. When the nervous system is strong and resilient we don’t get triggered by every small thing that doesn’t please us but can look at the unpleasant things through a filter. Instead of immediately reacting we pause, feel, and make a choice from a place of calmness instead of anger and frustration.

CARDAMOM INFUSED POWER BALLS WITH SESAME SEEDS

Are you struggling to include more healthy snacks and desserts into your diet? Well, here’s one recipe that is super easy, fast, and delicious but at the same time satisfies even the most stubborn sweet cravings in a healthy and nutritious way.

Nothing makes me happier on a busy day than a bunch of delicious power balls in the fridge waiting to be eaten for dessert or as an energizing snack. I’m not so picky about what ingredients to use because with power balls only the sky is the limit! These can be varied in thousands of different ways depending on your own taste buds and current desires & needs.

I usually make a double portion of these yummy balls so that I can enjoy them for several days. Keep them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week (some say you can store these even for two weeks but mine just simply don’t last for so long.)

I always use dried dates, raw cocoa powder, and virgin coconut oil as a base and then add whatever other suitable ingredients I have at home. The only “negative” side to this recipe is that you need to think a bit in advance so that you have time to soak the dried dates and cashew nuts. They are just a lot easier to digest when they’ve been soaked overnight or at least for 4 hours. Also, your blender or food processor will have an easier time processing the ingredients into a smooth dough. So, let’s get to it!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 300g Dried dates, soaked overnight or at least 4 hours (you can also use fresh dates and those you don’t have to soak)
  • 150g Cashew nuts, soaked overnight or at least 4 hours
  • 4-5 tbs virgin coconut oil
  • 4-5 tbs raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 drop cardamom essential oil OR 1 generous tsp cardamom powder
  • Toasted sesame seeds

HOW TO PREPARE:

  1. Toast the sesame seeds in a skillet on medium heat until they become golden brown. Be careful not to burn them! When you feel a nutty smell coming from the skillet and the seeds have changed color they are ready.
  2. Remove them from the skillet immediately and pour them on a plate.
  3. Drain the soaked dates and cashew nuts and place them in a blender or food processor.
  4. Add coconut oil, raw cacao, salt, and cardamom essential oil or powder into the blender or food processor.Blend until all the ingredients have mixed well and formed a smooth dough. If there are few bigger pieces of dates and/or cashew nuts that’s totally ok.
  5. Wet your hands with cold water, take a small amount of the dough and roll it between your hands into a ball.
  6. Roll the ball in toasted sesame seeds.
  7. Repeat until you have used all the dough.
  8. Place the balls in a sealed container in the fridge and eat whenever you need a little energy boost snack or a healthy and yummy dessert.

NOTES:

You can be really creative with this recipe and modify it to better suit your taste buds. If you like a more chocolate flavor you can add a bit more cacao powder. You can replace the cashew nuts with almonds. If your dough is too soft you can add about one decilitre of oat flakes into the dough or if it’s too thick then just add a bit more virgin coconut oil. You really can’t go wrong with these ones because the ingredients can be adjusted very easily and you can always taste the dough and make changes before rolling into bite-sized balls.

Few words about using essential oils in food: Essential oils are a great way to spice up food and add intense flavours to your favourite meals. However, not all essential oils can be used internally so you need to make sure that the essential oil you are using is a certified food grade, 100% pure essential oil. When cooking, I use only the Vitality / plus oil collection from Young Living because those are actually classified as food supplements and therefore contain no harmful ingredients. If you need more help and information on choosing the right oils for cooking I would be more than happy to help. Just send me a message and I’ll get back to you.

SIX THINGS TO EXPECT IN YOUR FIRST YOGA CLASS

Are you looking for yoga in your life? Whether you are a complete beginner or a more advanced yogi going to a yoga class where you’ve never been before is always a sort of a surprise. This is why I wanted to share with you six main things you can expect in your first yoga class with me. There are many different styles of yoga out there and every teacher is unique in her/his own amazing way. This is why I love the saying I learned in my 200-hour Purna Yoga teacher training: “We’re not looking for everyone, we’re looking for the ones who are looking for us.” So, if you’re looking for yoga in your life and ended up here on my website read on to see if what I teach is something that could benefit You.

Virabhadrasana II is an energising, whole body strengthener that allows you to connect with your inner warrior while toning and opening your body.

1. TO SEE YOUR BODY, MIND, AND SOUL AS ONE

The classical version of Surya Namaskar is done in almost every class because it’s such a powerful sequence that brings great benefits to your whole being. When you know the sequence by heart it becomes meditation in motion.

True, complete yoga is a holistic approach to a healthy and balanced life where asana (poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, yogic philosophy, nutrition, and yogic lifestyle walk hand in hand creating an invaluable set of tools for transformation and healing in the physical and subtle body. The Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ means union between the mind, body, and spirit, and for us to thrive, all these aspects need to be addressed. In all of my yoga classes, you have an opportunity to nurture your whole being and leave the class feeling fully alive.

2. PRACTICE ALIGNMENT BASED ASANA

Trikonasana is one of the key standing poses in yoga. It strengthens the legs, knees, and ankles.

Safety and alignment are the most important parts of the physical practice of yoga. Correct physical alignment doesn’t only keep the practitioner safe but it creates a free flow of energy in the nervous system. When the body is properly aligned you get to safely and effectively create space where you feel tension and strengthen the body where there is a lack of it. When the energies are flowing freely we can be creative, heal, change, and progress.

3. TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOGA PROPS

Supta Padangusthasana is done in almost every class I teach because it’s such a crucial pose for the health of our hips and lower back.

I use a lot of yoga props in my classes so that everyone, despite their current abilities, can experience freedom in their bodies. Props are used to give the body a feeling of what it should be cultivating itself. Props help make the asanas safer, more approachable, and more effective. Props also give the body different kind of stimulation and with their help you can experience deep openings, stability, and profound relaxation.

4. TO BECOME AWARE OF THE POWER OF YOUR BREATH

“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” -Unknown.

The breath is the link between the mind and the body and works as an effective tool for quieting the mind, balancing the nervous system, and keeping you in the present moment. Already in your first yoga class, you will learn the importance of breath awareness and get to feel in your own body the energizing and calming effects of the breath in your nervous system. You will learn to lengthen and deepen your breath while breathing in life and exhaling out tension and stress. You will leave the class with a greater understanding of the power of your breath.

5. SIMPLE YOGA PRACTICES THAT CAN BE EASILY INTEGRATED INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE

Garudasana opens the upper back and removes stiffness in the shoulders.

Making yoga a part of your daily life is the biggest gift you can give yourself. I’m a mother of two young children which makes finding the time for a long yoga practice challenging. There simply aren’t enough uninterrupted hours a day to do a one and a half-hour yoga practice every single day. I’ve got to learn to be effective and use the little time I have wisely. But, challenges are there for our personal growth, and this particular challenge, has offered me a lot of practical experience on creating short, simple, and effective yoga sequences and knowing what particular asana can give instant relief & results. Your first yoga class will introduce you to simple asanas and sequences that you can immediately start practicing at home. These asanas are safe and effective and they take only a few minutes of your time. Simple practices will become powerful habits.

6. BE INTRODUCED TO EASY AND SHORT MEDITATION TECHNIQUES

I teach Mental Centering technique from Heartfull Meditation at the beginning of every class. The intention is to bring the past and future, as well as your senses into the now.

Did you think that mediation means sitting still with your eyes closed and trying not to think anything? Well, that’s not how I teach it. In your first yoga class, you will be introduced to simple mediation techniques where you will learn to use the gifts of the mind of concentration and imagination to go inward. You will learn how to connect with your intuition and make the mind a humble servant of your soul. You will be introduced to dynamic meditation techniques that have the power to transform your being. This type of meditation is progressive and allows you to effectively work with the things you wish to change.

All these six things have one thing in common: the joy of movement! It’s a joy to move the body, to follow the movement of the breath, to feel the energies in your body moving, and to notice the movement of the energy of your mind. In my classes I want to help you to cultivate the feeling of joy in everything you’re doing and notice the amazing effects it has in your whole being.

If what you read resonated with you and you’re curious to join one of my classes go and check out my schedule. My weekly yoga classes are held at the Lotte Berk Barre studio in Gattikon (Thalwil). You can join the prenatal yoga class and Early Bird yoga class online via Zoom as well! More online classes (group and private) are coming soon! If you have any questions just send me a message and I’ll get back to you asap.

CREAMY GOLDEN MILK

Now that we have entered autumn this spicy, warming, and creamy drink is back in my evening routine.


There are rumours that golden milk can boost your immune system but I’ve found this to be very helpful for digestion as well.
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When I’m not home at dinner time, golden milk often serves as an easily digestible and soothing dinner. I’m very sensitive to mealtime changes and would rather eat every day at the same time but it’s not always possible.
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When I have to skip dinner a big cup of golden milk is satisfying enough to keep the hunger away until morning comes and I love to enjoy it also after a proper dinner to help with the digestion.
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You can find so many different versions of golden milk on the internet but here’s how I like to make it:

  • 3 dl of oat milk (or a milk of your choice)
  • 1 generous teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cashew butter
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • one drop of food-grade cardamom essential oil (or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder.)

Pour the milk of your choice in a small saucepan and add the turmeric and cinnamon powders (and cardamom powder if using that instead of the essential oil). Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Put the cashew butter, honey, and one drop of cardamom essential oil in a blender and pour in the hot golden milk. Blend for about 15 seconds or until all the ingredients are mixed well.
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Enjoy this creamy golden milk as a calming & nurturing evening drink.

PASTA IN A CREAMY CHICKPEA SAUCE

Summer is slowly turning into autumn. Days are clearly getting shorter, the summer heat is turning into autumn crispiness, and the body is starting to crave heavier and warmer foods. When the outside temperatures drop I feel like changing most of the raw foods into cooked ones and adding lots of legumes into my diet.

One of our family’s all-time favorite autumn & winter dish is “pasta e ceci”, pasta and chickpeas. It’s perfect comfort food in a healthy, fast-food style. This recipe is by my southern Italian mother-in-law who used to cook this often during my daughter’s ‘picky eater’ years. This dish was one of the few things she loved and this is still one of our go-to recipes when we need to cook something easy, fast, yet healthy that pleases the taste buds of the whole family.

INGREDIENTS

for 4 servings

Cooked chickpeas 250g

Garlic clove 1

Parsley handful

Small pasta 300g

Water 800ml

Olive oil 2 tbsp

Salt 1tsp

Parmesan cheese

Black pepper

HOW TO PREPARE:

  • Soak the chickpeas overnight and boil them according to the instructions on the package OR use ready made ones.
  • Pour olive oil in the pan, peel the garlic, and fry it for a few minutes. Watch out that the it doesn’t burn.
  • Add the chickpeas into the pan and fry them for a few minutes
  • Add the water and parsley into the pan and bring it to a boil.
  • Mix with a dimmer until the sauce is smooth. 
  • Add the pasta and cook until ready . This may take a little longer than what’s written on the pasta package.
  • Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese OR a pinch of black pepper on top.

Personally, I like this pasta without parmesan cheese. Instead, I put a pinch of black pepper in my own portion and mix it well. Kids on the other hand prefer this pasta with parmesan cheese but it’s not necessary.

Make it gluten free by using gluten free pasta.

Make it vegan by leaving the parmesan cheese out.

BUON APPETITO!