Monday, 31 March 2014

MARCH MADNESS!

Feels like the year just began but we are already at the last day of March. That was fast. Either time moves too fast or too slow, we still complain about it. Humans are so indecisive with what they really want. You want time to move when you want it to move?? Anyway, lets get on. I've seen bloggers and vloggers doing monthly favorites post. I thought for a change I want to share my monthly highlights and lowlights of my life. I have tried to be consistent with writing a daily journal before but it's a serious commitment which to be honest, is quite tough to keep up. Well, of course I'm not going to write a journal on my blog everyday. Instead, I want to share some interesting and the not so interesting moments of my life in a month. This way I hope to be more at present with my life and be more attentive about little details that happen in my life. Hoping to have more highlights compared to lowlights every month. Life is always about looking at the brighter side, right? Hope you all had a great month and cheers to AWESOME APRIL.

HIGHLIGHTS.....

1. I began my blogging journey. 

2. I celebrated my birthday. No, I'm not going to tell you my age.

3. I disciplined myself and attended my yoga classes consistently to finish up my remaining hours for the intermediate level.

4. I got more opportunities to teach and financially support myself.

5. I saw 4 squirrels this month. Squirrels are fascinating to look at and if you live in the city, it's a rare sight.

6. Rekindled old friendships and made new friends. They just make me feel better.

7. Successfully achieved side plank pose. So proud of myself.

8. Took a few seconds to watch a tree, a flower plant or even grasses nearby while waiting for the traffic light to turn green.

9. Did not fuss or frown every time it rained. This time I smiled on every single rainy day.


LOWLIGHTS.....

1. Shed a few tears here and there.

2. Disappointments.

3. Lost my temper a few times.

4. Heartbreaks and all that jazz.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Happy Feet.

Raise your hands if you love smooth feet! Every women would love to have a well hydrated, soft and smooth feet. Imagine if they are as smooth as baby's feet. That may be an exaggeration because that's quite impossible to achieve at this age but you get what I mean. I think women around the world would agree with my statement. I have an obsession for smooth feet. My skin has always been on the dry side no matter how hard I try to keep it hydrated. I have not found a product which can give a long lasting smooth feet. My skin is so dry that whatever I apply to my legs and feet disappears when I wake up in the morning. So I end up with my dry and sad feet again. Disappointing! If you feel sad and concerned for your feet, you're not alone sista!

On my quest to try to repair my dry feet and cracked heels, I was experimenting with numerous products. I tried low end products from the pharmacy and high end products. The results were immediate but only lasted till morning. The moment I jumped into the shower, my skin returned to being dry and that made me upset. One fine day, I had my light bulb moment again and I came up with this wacky idea. I don't know if you know but I use sesame oil for my oil pulling practise every morning. So one night I applied some sesame oil and massaged it on my feet including the soles of the feet and heels. I would say this was my act of desperation. YOLO! Obviously I didn't walk around with my oil covered feet, so I put on some fancy socks and I left it on overnight. Yes I am wearing two different sock because I am just cool that way.


Well what do you know, I woke up with soft and smooth feet the next morning. To my surprise, this time the results lasted for more than 2 days. I was impressed. So I sat down to research on it and to learn more about the benefits of sesame oil for skin care. I have listed below some important facts on sesame oil.

  • Sesame oil has a thick consistency and be applied as a moisturizer or emollient to your skin and hair. It is safe to be used by anyone regardless of your skin conditions. Safe for babies, pregnant and nursing mothers, person suffering from sensitive skin or extreme skin disorders. 
  • Sesame oil has healing and antibacterial properties. It helps speed up the healing of cuts, wounds and skin abrasion. Sesame oil also prevents bacterial infections and open wounds and inflammation. 
  • Sesame oil helps to repair dry and damaged skin. The sticky and thick consistency of the oil "glues" itself to the skin for a longer time and penetrates deep into the skin to repair dry elbow, knees, callus and cracked heels. 
  • The moisturizing and repairing properties of sesame oil slows down skin aging. Antioxidants  in the oil reduces formation of wrinkles and fine lines on skin surface.

Since discovering this life changing routine, I have been religiously applying sesame oil to my feet every night before bed. Wearing the socks over it keeps my feet warm at night and the heat actually allows the pores on your skins to absorb the oil. It's true. I actually removed my socks after 2 hours and there was no sign of oil and my feet were completely soft and smooth. Now who wouldn't want that. Feel free to use any other oil if you don't like the smell  of sesame oil. I tried almond oil too, but the results were not that impressive. My suggestion would be, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil with the sesame oil to have a more pleasant scent. I am not sure about its usage to the facial skin because skin conditions differ according to individuals. I would say its safe for other parts of your body to achieve soft and supple skin. It's inexpensive, effective and a chemical free way to protect your skin.  Give yourself or your loved one a little foot massage with sesame oil and let me know how did it work for you.

~M~

*Disclaimer: Information provided above are mostly from my personal experience and results may vary for individuals. Duration of healing and recovery of skin may also vary depending on the severity of the condition. If you are concerned about skin allergies or have any queries on the effects of sesame oil, consult a professional dermatologist, a doctor or an experienced yoga instructor before you start this routine.

DID YOU KNOW?

Today we celebrate 'Something on a Stick' Day!


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Milk or No Milk?

I am not against cow's milk or any dairy products derived from it. I don't even want to argue about pasteurized milk. Let's not go there. Some people have mixed opinions, some people don't see any harm in it and some people just can't start their day without it. But I am very sure there are a bunch of people who are totally against it whatsoever. I choose not to comment. Instead, I learnt the art of making soy milk. I have an obsession for anything handmade and homemade. If its out in the stores, I will learn to make it at home by any means. Simply because I am on a mission to cut down on preserved/packaged/canned food. The person to thank will be Nava because his preaching on eating habits and choices of food has been drilled into the core of my brain. Alright, enough yapping. If you still haven't guessed, I am going to share my take on the art of making soy milk. It is an ART because patience is essence and the final product is definitely worth the wait.


I probably love soy milk so much because my mom drank it almost everyday when I was in her womb. And she made sure I grew up drinking soy milk throughout my childhood and adolescent years. It has never occurred to me to make my own soy milk from scratch. But after my detox session earlier this year, I had to make healthy choices because there were a lot of do's and don'ts with diet. Fresh milk and dairy products was a no-no. I had my 'light bulb on the head' moment again and I decided to give soy milk a try. To my surprise, it turned out well despite the long wait. I must admit its a little painstaking to squeeze the milk from the ground soy beans, especially if you are doing bigger batches(just like I did the first time). I have learnt from my mistakes and I will share with you ways to make your life simpler so that you don't end up being tired like I was and still enjoy the goodness of soy milk.


Ingredients....

  • Raw soy beans - 1 cup
  • Brown sugar/Your choice of sweetener - 3 cups
  • Water - Generous amount for grinding soy beans and making the sugar syrup

         Yes! Only 3 ingredients! 

Making the Soy Milk...

  1. Measure one cup of raw soy beans and add it into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with enough water to cover the soy beans and allow it soak for at least 8 hours. I usually do this the night before and allow the soy beans to soak overnight. No need to change the soaking water in between and do not cover the bowl.
  2. When you are ready to grind the beans, set up the blender. 
  3. The beans would have doubled in size after soaking overnight. Throw away the soaking water and rinse the soy beans to remove any soy bean skin. It's okay if you cannot rinse off the soy bean skin.
  4. Now add 1/2 cup of the hydrated soy beans into the blender with 1 cup of water. Grind until you get a smooth paste. This measurement is just a guide but you can feel free to change it up according to your blender size. It's okay if its a little runny. Make sure not to overload the blender with beans because the ground beans increases in volume in the blender, it will overflow and you wouldn't get a smooth paste. That's how I made a mess the first time.
  5. Once you get a smooth paste, transfer the mixture onto a straining cloth placed over a large bowl. I used a double straining method, placing a straining cloth over a metal sieve to produce a much smoother milk.
  6. Allow the ground up beans to stay on the cloth for at least 20 to 30 minutes before you proceed to squeeze the remaining milk. The mistake I did the first time was I went on to squeeze the milk without allowing it seep through the cloth. It took way too much energy, made a mess around and I ended up with tired hands. Please DON'T REPEAT my mistake.
  7. When you think you have extracted maximum amount of milk from the beans, transfer the raw milk into a cooking pot and place it over the stove. Add another 3 or 4 cups water and bring it to a simmer on high heat. Once bubbles start to form on the surface, reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes until the raw taste of the milk goes off.
  8. Allow the soy bean milk to cool to room temperature before you transfer it to your favorite container/bottle. I would suggest you to strain the milk while transferring it to the container to prevent any milk skin from getting into the milk. This way you get a smooth milk.
  9. Refrigerate the soy milk and enjoy it at any time of the day. It keeps well for up to 3 days.


The Sweetener...

  1. Add sugar and water (may be 2 cups) into a cooking pot. Stir until the sugar dissolves. I personally prefer brown sugar over ordinary sugar. Feel free to use white sugar or any kind of sugar.
  2. Place it over the stove on medium heat.
  3. Once the sugar syrup has thickened, allow the syrup to cool completely.
  4. Run the syrup through a sieve to remove any sediments before transferring into a container. This step is only done when you use brown sugar.
  5. Refrigerate the syrup separately and add it to your soy milk whenever you need.

Finally, it's time for the taste test. I filled 1/4 of my glass with the sugar syrup and followed by the soy milk. Adjust the sweetness according to your liking. Stir and INDULGE! I don't want to sound like a brand ambassador for homemade soy milk, but it's an experience anyone should try at least one. Its's cheaper, fresher and healthier than store bought soy milk. It may seem like hard work at first but I promise you will get the hang of it. I made a little mess here and there the first time, but now I have got it under control. I am sure I impressed Mystery Man with my creation. Share with me your experience if you ever give this recipe a try. Cheers to Soy Milk!

~M~




Tuesday, 25 March 2014

10 ways to declutter you life.

1. Donate the clothes/shoes/accessories you haven't worn in the past 1 year.

2. Clean out your fridge.

3. Go on a 3 days fruit/juice cleanse.

4. Change your bed sheets. There's nothing better than sleeping on fresh, clean sheets.

5. Organize your tech gadgets. Your phone, camera, laptop, iPad and your social accounts have junk. Clean and organize.  

6. Start a TO-DO list.

7. Play a favorite sport/get back to your hobby.

8. Read an Inspirational quote a day and write them down.

9. Tear waste papers. It will make you feel better. Be sure to recycle them.

10. Prayer/Gratitude for what you have.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

As easy as A-B-C ......

A B C v.2 by Amy

What's the second thing we all do after waking up in the morning? Brush our teeth, duh! Not for me. Before you start saying eewww, don't get any wrong ideas. I do something else before brushing my teeth. I pop a spoonful of cold pressed sesame oil into my mouth and swish it around my mouth. Sesame oil is quite potent but I am fine with the taste. I swirl the oil around in my mouth for 10 minutes while I prepare the salt water for Jala Neti. After 10 minutes, I spit the the oil which has turned a cloudy, yellowish liquid and also doubled in volume. Then, I continue with brushing my teeth and Jala Neti. This is an ancient practise called oil pulling/oil gargling or in ayurvedic terms known as kavala graha/kavala gandoosha and I was taught this technique in my recent detox day.


Anything that goes into our body through the mouth will directly show results internally and externally. Food is the most common example that I can use to explain. In the case of fruits, even if you consume them in excess, the immediate effect is in the ease of digestion followed by the gain in energy. On the aspect of our physical, fruits can help you to get healthier skin and I can safely say they do not cause any form of allergies unless you have been tested for allergies for specific fruits. Consuming fruits can psychologically boost your confidence because you are aware that you are putting in something extremely good for your body. Now, lets look at fast food or junk food that can be more commonly found around us. From my personal experience, eating unhealthy and processed food gave me instant energy, but it did not last very long and that made me end up eating more and more. Besides that, I suffered from breakouts and mentally, I always felt guilty after eating fast food because I know I am cautiously putting something bad into my body.

Before I go on blabbering, the reason I mentioned about food is because food goes into our system and the outcome could be either good or bad based on what you choose to eat. In the case of oil pulling, the oil only stays in the mouth, yet, the benefits you gain internally and externally are remarkable. I can assure you that you can find a relieve from several medical conditions just by practising oil pulling everyday without any side effects. Did I mention that it's inexpensive too. While researching on this topic, I came across many testimonials where people experience positive changes and manage to overcome various medical issues. If you are still not convinced with that, you can merely practise oil pulling to improve your oral health and prevent plaque formation leading to gingivitis (inflamed and bleeding gums). From my personal experience, I noticed whiter teeth, healthy mucus level and improved sleep pattern. Hey, that makes me a happy child by just having a good sleep.

What REALLY happens during oil pulling?

Lets get real, even the most expensive electronic toothbrush and the most highly researched toothpaste cannot reach every nook and cranny in our mouth. If they really did work as they claimed, why do we end up buying the same toothbrush and toothpaste to treat our oral problems. If they were really that good, wouldn't the problems just disappear or at least reduce acting up every now and then. I am not against brushing, I do it too, but I am also aware that brushes are abrasive to enamel and don't we all know that toothpastes are 100% chemicals. We are in an illusion that brushing eliminates all bacteria and toxins from the mouth and results in whiter teeth and fresher breath. WRONG! Teeth only represents 10% of your mouth, so there more regions in your mouth than you can imagine for bacteria to breed and wander about.

Disease does start from the mouth. This is because most ingestion is done via the mouth. Our mouth and tongue are also the gateway to many organs, hence there are specific locations in mouth and points on the tongue directly linked and affects the health of these organs. The viscous sesame oil can reach even the tiniest space in your oral cavity and draw out anything nasty to your body. Let me be more precise, viscous oil can be said to have a 'sticky' consistency. If you swirl this oil in your mouth for 20 minutes, it can reach every little crevices between your teeth and your entire mouth surface. Plaque, food residues and harmful bacteria 'sticks' to the oil and they are 'pulled' out as you continue to swish the oil. Tooth brush cannot fight bacteria, toothpaste is not sticky enough and mouth wash is too runny to 'pull' out plaque. Simply put, imagine giving your mouth and tongue an oil massage. We all get excited about massages, right. Your body would be grateful to you if could just spare a couple of minutes giving an oil massage to your tongue. Haven't I convinced you?


Why use SESAME OIL?

It's not obligatory to use sesame oil. If you don't like the taste, you can substitute it with coconut oil, sunflower oil, olive oil or castor oil. It has to be a cold pressed oil which has its nutrients preserved. It's alright if you don't want to splurge on these oils, as long as you get a decent cold pressed oil, that would do the job. The real mental challenges are consciously putting the oil into the mouth and retaining it there for that period of time. I agree it does come with practise and perseverance. It takes about 3 days to overcome these challenges but keep reminding yourself of its goodness.

"Why oil?" you may ask me. Other than the reasons I mentioned above, oil also stimulates the production of saliva in the mouth. Saliva stimulation in return helps to maintain a healthy salivary gland and also better digestion, if you don't already know, digestions begins at the mouth.

Who should do it?

ANYONE! There is no age limit. Kids can start at the age of 5 and go up to 60, 70, 80 years old ........and beyond. There will not be any side effects if you choose to start or stop at any time. It's safe regardless of your state of health or what medications you are on. Oil pulling can also be done when are having fever, flu or even if women are on their menstrual cycle. Pregnant women and nursing mothers can also try oil pulling but I would recommend for you to approach an experienced yoga instructor or ayurvedic practitioner for advise if you intend to begin. If you are wearing braces or dentures, no worries because you can also practise but make sure to remove you dentures when oil pulling.

When to do it?

I start my morning with oil pulling because this is the time that my stomach is empty, the most amount of bacteria is present in the mouth after a long night of sleep and the only time I don't have to talk to anyone or even try to do something important. But you can always do a second a round at night before bed to prevent bacteria from having  jolly good time in your mouth through out the night. If you forget to do it one day, you can pick it back up the next day or simple, just do it before bed. Make sure to do it when your stomach is empty or you will constantly feel vomiting sensation.

How to do it?

  • Take one tablespoon of the oil of your choice before brushing your teeth.
  • Using your tongue, swish, pull and push the oil around in your mouth and through your teeth, allowing it to line your gums.
  • You can do this anywhere from 5 minutes up to 20 minutes. "Why 20 minutes?" The longer you pull and push the oil in your mouth, the more bacteria and microbes are drawn out. I am aware that 20 minutes is a long time but try to find something to do while the oil is still in your mouth. I go to the kitchen and prepare warm saline water for Jala Neti but you may read the newspaper/book, make up your bed, turn on the television/computer or whatever you can think of accomplishing in 20 minutes. 
  • When the oil is in your mouth, be very cautious not to swallow even a tiny bit of it. The final oil and saliva mixture is full of toxins and quite harmful to the body if swallowed. 
  • Times up and when you are ready spit the oil in a small plastic bag, tie it up and throw it into the trash can. Try your best not to spit into the sink or the toilet, we don't want to mess up the pipes. So ensure proper method of disposal. The oil and saliva mixture will be a milky,yellowish liquid when you spit it out.
  • Rinse your mouth with water and you can continue with brushing your teeth.

Benefits.....

To further convince you to try out oil pulling, here's a list of ailments/medical conditions that can be treated. I have gathered this list from the book Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing written by Dr. Bruce Fife.
  1. Acne
  2. Allergies
  3. Arthritis
  4. Asthma
  5. Back and Neck Pain
  6. Bad Breath
  7. Bronchitis
  8. Chronic Fatigue
  9. Colitis
  10. Chron's Disease
  11. Constipation
  12. Dark under-eye circles
  13. Dental Cavities
  14. Dermatitis
  15. Diabetes
  16. Eczema
  17. Hemorrhoids
  18. Hypertension
  19. Insomnia
  20. Irregular sleep patterns
  21. Migraine Headaches
  22. Mucous Congestion 
  23. Peptic Ulcers
  24. PMS and irregular menstrual cycle
  25. Periodontal Disease 
  26. Sinusitis
  27. Tooth Abscess
I think its a wrap for this post. I have tried my best to gather as much information as I can on oil pulling. Come to think about it, you get to overcome so many life bugging medical disorders just by swooshing oil in your mouth. Are you thinking of giving it a try? Or have you been practising prior to reading this post? Share below your routine and what difference it has made to your health and overall wellness. Lets share the joy of Oil Pulling!

~M~

*Disclaimer: I am merely a home practitioner and all the information shared above are mostly from my personal experience. If you are having second thoughts on anything at all, I will try my best to clarify your doubts. If you are thinking to try oil pulling but still unsure, feel free to do your own research, approach a professional doctor, an experienced yoga instructor or an ayurvedic consultants for further information.







Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Life Isn't A Walk In the Park.... But why not?

'Park-Stuttgart' by veri disquo

My week would be incomplete if I didn't drag Mystery Man to the park. I never grew up as an outdoor person because most of my childhood was spent attending dance classes and being a nerd. I wasn't very athletic either. Surprisingly, I ended up discovering yoga and now I spend more time outdoors. Going to the park with Mystery Man has become my weekly routine. I went to 5 different parks throughout the month of January and to my surprise, every park that I visited was filled with lots of people. I was actually happy to see so many citizens opting for parks as a destination to spend a quality weekend. Babies in strollers, toddlers, children, teenagers, adults and elderlies moving around the park with friends and family, exercising, chatting away and having a good time. As I was processing my thoughts, it occurred to me that most people ignore the existence of parks in our community. Not everyone, but majority. Some of the reasons I remember people mentioning to me was feeling too tired to travel all the way to the park and worse, wanting to relax at home. Honestly, I don't see how watching television for 4 to 6 hours non-stop is considered relaxing. It seems to me as though, people think spending an hour or so walking around people and trees is harmful to mankind. One of the many things humans conditioned themselves to believe. Purely absurd.

I am not going to blabber on the physical and mental health benefits of walking. Walking is obviously good for you whether it's in a park or at a mall. I want to focus on the idea of the park itself. This is my take on 'WHY YOU SHOULD GO TO THE PARK'.

1. To Spend "ME" Time.

Getting out of the house and getting some fresh air works wonders for yourself. Escape the hustle-and-bustle of daily life and naturally elevate your mood by taking a slow walk in the park. A park can the best place for you to go to relax if you're overwhelmed with work or life. You're free from meetings, chores, commitments and a to-do list. Simply allow your mind to wander in silence and the only person you have to listen to is yourself. Think of it like a walking meditation or a mind massage to re-frame your mind and organize your thoughts. You will be more creative with a clearer mind and you will do better at work and home.

2. To be ONE with Nature.

Keep your cellphones, laptops and any electronic gadgets away to look at flowers and trees. You get a chance to be surrounded by greenery and get to see animals like squirrels, birds,ducks and fishes. I actually saw a monitor lizard at the park once. Creepy and exciting at the same time. Guaranteed you will enjoy mother nature. Sometimes it's good to look at real birds compared to Flappy Bird. Your mind and body will be thankful.

3. For the sake of your kids.

The park is the perfect place for children because they can run, play and shout for joy with friends and family. The wide and open atmosphere allows them to feel free to express themselves. Trust me, keeping your kids at home all day is like caging wild animals. They tend to mess up the home like a claustrophobic. So, release them into a park which will keep them distracted with activities and you get to save up the energy of cleaning up the mess. Want to hear a good news, after all the running and jumping, your kids will go to bed earlier than usual. You will appreciate the quiet time with your hubby on a weekend.

4. ZERO stress.

It's true, there is no stress when you're at the park. You are only surrounded by relaxed people who are smiling and taking time to live. Most people come to park for only two reasons; fitness activity or recreation purpose. Their goal is to get a good workout, spend quality time with whoever they are with, escape daily routine and ultimately, to enjoy a good time. When you are surrounded by happy people with positive thoughts, it will impossible for you to feel stressed or anxious.

5. Have a 'COUPLE TALK'

This is what I usually do with Mystery Man during our park walks. We use the opportunity to fill up each other on what has been happening throughout the week as we burn a few calories, instead of lazing around the couch. Parks are pretty romantic and the atmosphere is just nice to have a calm and fulfilling conversation. Allow your kids to wander about (not out of sight, of course) and take this time to have a pleasant conversation with your other half. Honestly, whenever I am with Mystery Man in the park, it does bring us back to the earlier days of our courtship.

6. Set a good example.

Your kids grow up watching everything you say and do. You are the biggest role model they can look up to. Inspire them to have a more active lifestyle and to be more connected to the nature and outdoors. Keeping your kids active will result in their health, interaction and overall personality. As simple as a visit to the park will improve your communication and understanding with them in the long run. I'm sure you don't want to be the reason to raise lazy and unhappy children.

7. Meet more PEOPLE.

If you choose to go to a park around your neighborhood, there's a high probability that you will bump into a friend or an acquaintance. Even if you don't bump into anyone you know, you can always pass a smile or start a conversations with people around. Who knows, you will probably make new friends. The same goes to your kids.

8. Be a good citizen.

 I don't know if you realize, but there is a management and a whole lot of workers who put their blood and sweat into taking care of ours parks. No matter how much leaves they have to sweep and how much people litter around the park, they still work hard to keep our parks clean. Appreciating and supporting their hard work is just good citizenship. When we bring our families to the park, their families gets to survive longer.

9. Keeps you healthy.

I did not want to mention the obvious but I just couldn't resist. Walking, running, jumping and climbing will not just make you healthy but your kids as well. It's a perfect way to incorporate a workout for parents who can't get time to exercise. A person who walks for 30 minutes a day can lower blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. Start walking to create a healthier you.

10. It's FREE.

I hope I have inspired you to take a visit to your nearby park this week. No membership fees, no scheduling  with your personal trainer and no time limit for staying. You just have to bring yourself to the park and have a jolly good time. If you're a regular park visitor, tell me what's your favorite activity and if you're planning to go this weekend, give me a 'high 5'. 

#parks 

~M~

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Another Day in Life: Counting Miracles.

'Rain drops' by Caitlin Doyle

If you haven't already known, we are having a tough time in Malaysia. The missing plane, horrific haze, lack of water supply and we have been surviving without rain for almost 3 weeks. While that's happening outside, I have struggles of my own in my personal life, not for 3 weeks but almost a year now. I am not bold enough to share those details here. While having a casual chat with a dear friend last Wednesday, I was informed that thousands of infants and children are suffocating in hospitals due to the poor air quality. Oh dear, babies can't even speak and express the pain they are going through. From that point onward, I silently prayed for the rain to pour to clear the sky and help the 'young, little souls' who are suffering in silence. On Thursday, I got out of my car and began walking towards my yoga class and the first drop of rain touched my skin. Immediately, I said thanks to nature for blessing us with rain. It wasn't much but definitely a relief.

I was out with Mystery Man yesterday evening and our evening ended on a sour note due an unexpected obstacle. We were sitting in a restaurant and I couldn't bear the sadness anymore, I couldn't control my tears and I was surrounded by people around. I was fighting with myself not to let my tears roll down my cheeks and I lost the battle. It's a terrible thing to go through, never imagined I would be crying in a restaurant. Times I wish I could be invisible.

Anyway, I WOKE UP this morning. While going through this depressive state which to be honest, I'm becoming quite accustomed to. It rained again today. And this time, it was more like a downpour. I stood next to my window, tears rolled down my cheeks again. This time, not because I was sympathizing myself. The nature has once again blessed us with rain. I am thankful because it's chance for the environment to improve, clearer sky and a cooler weather. It's a blessing for every single one of us especially the infants and children who have been battling for clean air. I sincerely pray for every single child to get better. Yes, my own problems still exists but I would rather count the blessings around me rather than sulk about myself. Maybe the next time you are overwhelmed by something, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Say thanks to the nature.

~M~


Saturday, 15 March 2014

My First Time.

'New Year Resolutions' by Dawn Ritchie

For many of us, we have been brain washed to think that we should start the New Year with a clean slate. It is the time to reminisce unaccomplished resolutions and to add new ones to the list. Why are we conditioned this way? Is New Year the only "right" time to drop an old habit or start something new? As I mentioned in my first post, a fresh start begins within you and does not depend on the date, actually. Change happens by choice.

This year, I was also given an opportunity to begin with a clean slate on the 31st of January along with my 'Mystery Man'. A detox day conducted by a very dear teacher/friend, Navanesan (Nava) at the Kelab Komuniti Cyberjaya. Before I share my views and thoughts, lets get into details on what we actually did on the day. My day began at 5 a.m. because we had to be at the location at 6.30 a.m. I have to admit I had mixed feelings about it. For almost a week prior to the day, I was nervous yet excited every time the thought of it came to my mind. To be precise, the thought of intestinal cleansing was mind boggling. Thinking about drinking liters of saline water(not tasty!) and frequent trips to the loo was pretty intimidating. Finally, I told myself to WOMAN UP and JUST DO IT! Around 6.30-ish we were given a short briefing by the master himself. When he finished, I thought 'Oh dear, the adventure begins here'. It started simple, of course.


'Pouring olive oil into a spoon' by Classy Sassy & Trendy Inc.
The actual practise has no connections with its name. We had to swoosh 1 tablespoon of virgin, cold-pressed sesame oil for about 10 minutes. So lets make it simple for your imaginations by renaming it as 'oil-gargling'. I was okay with the oil taste but Mystery Man felt like throwing up the entire time. That's an expression I don't get to see everyday. While the oil was still in our mouth getting swished around, we were ushered to a little garden nearby. I will discuss the technique, do's and dont's and the benefits of this practise more detailed in another post.

'Walking on soft, green grass' by Weed Man Lawn Care
We continued to walk barefooted on the damp grass/soil. A little prickly here and there, tingling the soles of my feet. According to Nava, some of the benefits of walking barefoot on grass and soil covered by morning dew are;

  • Retains the curvature of the feet and prevents flat feet due to the irregular surface of soil
  • Balances our aura because we are connected to the five elements. Earth (soil and grass), water (morning dew), fire (rising sun), wind (fresh air) and the open sky.

With the oil still in my mouth and walking about slowly on the grass, I got to experience the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen in my life. The air was cool but I could feel the warm light from the sun. The garden is located near a lake, the soft rays of the rising sun made the surface of the water to twinkle like crystals. The clear sky was filled with transcending colors from baby blues to hues of pink and lilacs and golden yellows mixed with soft oranges. Nature's form of art. The choice of location was just perfect. There couldn't be a better way to start my day.

'Pouring water Motion' by Sarah
Finally, we were allowed to spit the sesame oil which had turned cloudy. Then, we were each given a mug to be filled with warm saline water while the instructions for the next practise were given. This was a tough one for me. The warm saline water had to be gulped, 1.5 liters to be precise. 'Bottoms Up'. Oh yes, it gets more interesting from here. After gulping, we had to stick in two fingers and press the back of the tongue to force ourselves to vomit the water. This is called Kunjal (regurgitative cleansing) or in simple words, forced vomiting. Apparently, the vomiting will be easier if your are more relaxed. Well I couldn't be relaxed and vomit at the same time. Too difficult. The taste of the salty water was making me vomit even without having to press the back of my tongue. I even had tears in my eyes at one point and that's supposed to be normal. Aaahh the joy of vomiting. That was quite an experience. The immediate result from this practise is the removal of excess phlegm/mucus and it is an excellent practice for anyone suffering from gastritis and ulcers.

'Neti_Pot_' by aromaticsalt

We went back into the hall to continue with the slides and Nava continued to discuss on the practises. Around 8 a.m. we were ushered to another garden area and this time we were facing the lake directly. The sun was gloriously shining upon us and the warmth from the rays were pleasant. We brought along the mug and neti pot. Our mugs were filled with warm saline water again. Jala neti is my personal favourite and I continue practising it daily since the day I learnt it. I experienced amazing changes after just 3 days of practise. My breathing passage feels clearer every morning and flow of breath into the passage is much smoother now. That is the immediate result that you will experience. I got rid of excessive phlegm which was bugging me constantly. And the most life changing result from Jala Neti is I am free from insomnia. After the second day of practise, my bed time got adjusted by itself and I slept soundly from that day onward. Now that is a great achievement in my book and I would recommend Jala Neti to anyone. I will dedicate an entire blog post on Jala Neti alone because it deserves the attention. Its already in my list and will be posting it very soon.

'rock salt' by sunshinecity
The highlight of the detox day was the Shankhaprakshalana (full intestinal wash). It was physically and mentally challenging for me, probably  because this was my first time trying it. It was also the longest practise for the day. This time we were given generous amount of saline water to drink. For every 500 mililiters of salt water we drank, we had to perform the following sequence of asanas in a flow.

  • Tadasana
  • Tiryaka tadasana
  • Kati chakrasana
  • Tiryaka bhujangasana
  • Udarakarshanasana
The purpose of these dynamic poses are to induce the movement of water along the intestinal line and to fully cleanse them. After about two to three rounds of drinking and performing asanas, you will feel the urge to go to the washroom. But the number of rounds of salt water drinking and the frequency of the washroom trips varies according to individuals. The discussion on Shankhaprakshalana is very lengthy and will be done later. At last, everyone completed the process. Oh gosh! We felt drained!

Just in time for LUNCH! Excitements under control please. The feast for the day was rice and mung beans porridge called Kicheri with ghee/clarified butter. Did I mention that this was our food for the next 3 days(minimum) without salt. The expressions on the Mystery Man's face was priceless. For some people its just too difficult because the tongue is desperate for anything but bland. Like it or not, this was our meal for the the coming days. Eat, Sleep and Kicheri. The reason is simply because to protect the stomach and intestinal tract until a new protective lining is produced. The clarified butter coats the intestinal walls whilst the rice and mung beans are easily digestible and acts as sources of energy and protein. In the actual practise, Kicheri is supposed to be consumed for one month to allow our body to recover naturally.

After lunch we were allowed to rest for about 20 minutes with a yoga nidra audio like a lullaby. The funny thing is everyone was fast asleep in about 1 minute through the audio and not to mention the loud snoring around the room.

'Candle' by Jochen Ziegon
Alright, getting back to the next practise. Trataka or better known as candle gazing is a very simple practise that can be done everyday. A burning candle is placed at eye level in a pitch black room. The best time would be at dawn or dusk.  We had to gaze at the flame without blinking for about one to two minutes. When the eyes become tired or begin to tear, gently close them. Repeating the steps three to four times. If tears begin to roll down your cheeks, its a sign your tear ducts are functioning well. Trataka helps in relieving depression, anxiety, insomnia and improves memory. 

The last one that I want to mention is another personal favorite of mine that I practise daily without fail. It's called eye washing and yes, you wash your eyes, literally. We are given a 'mighty' eye cup which is filled up with room temperature water. The eye cup is brought in contact with the eye ball and continue to rotate and blink. Repeat the steps on each eye for about three to five times. The benefits of eye washing are reduced eye strain, removal of dust, removal of excess of body heat and helps with migraine, headaches and sleep disorders.

The remaining two practices that we learnt were basti and nauli. But I am not getting into too much details on it here as this post is already long. Let's save that for another time. I apologize once again for not getting into too much details for each practise because I am saving it for single posts on each one.

Overall, it was a pretty interesting day although we were super tired when it ended. We definitely learnt a lot and we went back feeling different inside and out. The next day was just spent resting and recovering. I would recommend anyone to spend a detox day because the experience is very personal and you wouldn't know it unless you try it. So what's your first time?

~M~

Check out Nava's detox sessions and more on his work right here: http://www.yogaforbeginners-kl.com/










Thursday, 13 March 2014

10 simple things we can't live without

1. Mirror

2. Keys

3. Shoes

4. Remote Control

5. Plates

6. Buttons and zippers

7. Refrigerator

8. Paper and pen

9. Chairs

10. Electricity


"Richness is not how much you have, but how little you need"

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A little sugar wouldn't hurt.



I love to cook and bake. Period. Spending time in the kitchen is like a therapy. Not to mention the proud feeling that I experience every time I whip up something delicious on the first trial. I may not be the best cook(not yet), but I always appreciate the joy of sharing. Since this is my first recipe post, I thought may be we should start it on a sweet note. The one dessert that always has a special spot in my heart is gulab jamun. The first time I got my hands on these addictive sweet treat was at the age of 8. I still remember the taste of my first ever gulab jamun. I am salivating as I am typing these. The years went by and I grew up tasting gulab jamuns from various places but the biggest break through was when I actually made my own earlier this year. Everything does taste better when you make it at home. The best part is, I no longer have to yearn for store bought gulab jamuns. I can make them fresh and save up money. I shared it with some lovely people around me and the response was impressive. Finally, gulab jamun has become the first recipe I choose to share and probably because its my favorite too.

Traditional gulab jamun has khoa(milks solids) as its primary ingredient. The process of making home made khoa is painstaking and requires at least 2 hours. As I did not have the patience to make my own khoa, so I opted for a shortcut. My version of gulab jamun only requires about one hour from start to finish. Instant gulab jamuns without compromising the taste. Just the sight of gulab jamuns soaking in generous amount of sugar syrup is so lovely to look at. I am a sweet toothed girl and I am proud of it. I feel sad for those who think sweets are a sin but people who belong to the 'sweet tooth community' will definitely be on my side. Alright, I think I have rambled enough, lets get started. I am about to drool here.

Ingredients......

There is only one way to say this, don't mess with measurements dear. Measurements can make or break a dish, especially if you are working with a tricky one. Invest in a set of good measuring spoons and cups and they will stay loyal to you for a long, long time. You can get them at baking supplies stores and I got most of the ingredients for this recipe from there as well.

          To make the dough                                             
  • Full fat milk powder - 1 cup                                              
  • All purpose flour - 1/3 cup                                
  • Bicarbonate of soda - 1/4 teaspoon                   
  • Full fat milk - 2 tablespoons                                
  • Ghee/oil - 1 teaspoon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Oil for frying
        
          To make the sugar syrup
  • Granulated white sugar - 1 and 3/4 cups  
  • Water - 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Cardamom pods - 4 to 5
  • Rose water/rose essence - 2 to 3 drops

Lets start cooking......

Begin with the preparation of the sugary concoction as we need to allow time for it to cool down.
  1. Fill up a small pot with sugar and water and place it over a medium flame.
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved completely, add the cardamom pods and continue to heat the mixture.
  3. Stir and allow the mixture to come to a gentle simmer, forming bubbles around the pot.
  4. Let the sugar syrup come to a complete boil, reduce the flame and allow the liquid to become slightly thicker.
  5. Turn off the flame and add a few drops of rose water/ rose essence. No need to remove the cardamom pods because it enhances the flavor of the syrup. Finally, allow the sugar syrup to cool to room temperature.


While the sugar syrup is cooling down, we can start preparing the gulab jamun dough.
  1. In a large bowl add the full cream milk powder, all purpose flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  2. Add in the milk and ghee/oil.
  3.  Continue to mix all the ingredients .Once everything is well combined, you will get a very soft and sticky dough (very sticky actually).
  4. At this point, make sure not to knead the dough because over kneading flour forms gluten. Then the dough will be like bread. We want soft and spongy gulab jamun balls.
  5. Apply oil generously in between your palms and form small balls depending on the size you prefer. I rolled mine into marble sized balls. The gulab jamun balls does expand a little while frying and after soaking in sugar syrup.  

* I got 20 marble-sized gulab jamun balls and you can double or triple the measurements to make more.


We are down to the last few steps before you indulge in your amazing creation. Lets start frying.
  1. Add oil into a deep frying pan and allow the oil to heat up on a medium flame. Turn down the flame to low. The easiest way to check if the oil is hot enough is to insert any wooden utensil or skewer and bubbles should form around them. 
  2. When you are sure the oil is hot enough, drop the gulab jamun balls (3 to 4 at a time) slowly into the frying pan and it should slowly rise to the surface indicating the oil is at the correct temperature.
  3. Fry them till they turn golden brown or even slightly darker to ensure they have cooked all the way through. Remove the fried balls onto a kitchen towel to absorb excess oil and transfer them into the prepared sugar syrup.
  4. I prefer to soak these gulab jamun balls for about 3 to 5 hours before serving because the longer it soaks, the softer it gets. But sometimes patience is impossible.


I hope you give these lovelies a try and share it with your family and friends. You can make them for any occasions or even on a casual weekend. I am sure you will get compliments. I would love to hear about your gulab jamun making experience. Get back to me anytime and leave a question or a comment. 

~M~







Friday, 7 March 2014

Embracing Womanhood.

'flower bouquet' by Sven Pohle

Hello gorgeous! Happy International Women's Day! My heartiest wishes to every woman residing on our mighty Mother Earth. Well what do you know, even the Earth is categorized as a woman. Isn't that enough to signify how ginormous and powerful we are. Who run the world......GIRLS! I am obsessed with Beyonce and this song will surely get you pumped to celebrate yourself being a woman. I know life is tough when you are a woman and I am being very careful not to mention anything that will provoke regret/ self pity/ disappointment/ unhappy feelings. It's a day to celebrate and appreciate every women's presence and contribution to keep the world running. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and friends. Did I mention we still manage a career, perform the duties of a cook, a housekeeper, a babysitter and a nurturer. Women are probably the best multitasker that ever exist. Give yourself a pat in the back for all the AWESOME things you are doing in your life and continue to keep the world sane.

I really wish I could present every woman with a flower bouquet because YOU deserve the appreciation. Unfortunately, it's quite impossible for me to meet every single one of you. So, I thought I could at least share a small gift to make your day pleasant. My gift to you is an art of relaxation. If you don't mind, my request for today is please spare 10 minutes for yourself in silence. Sit comfortably on a mat/blanket in a silent corner at your home. Close your eyes and keep your shoulders relaxed. Relax in this position while taking a few natural breaths. Ensure your lips are lightly sealed and gently inhale through your nostrils. As you exhale, hum like a buzzing bee, making the sound 'Mmmmmmmm......' Feel the vibration at your throat. Try to exhale as slow as possible to deepen your relaxation. Continue inhaling and exhaling this way for as many times as you desire till you feel satisfied. This technique is known as brahmari (bee breath) and it can be practised at any time of the day to produce a relaxing effect and relieve anxiety or stress. Give it a go and trust me ladies, you deserve silence and relaxation today. Enjoy and have blissful day.

~M~

If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman. Margaret Thatcher

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Do you wash your eyes?



It may sound odd to you, but eye washing practise (Chakshu dhauti in Sanskrit terms) does exist and it is an important cleansing technique according to yogic science. You need an eye cup for this practise like the one shown in the photo above. It's mine actually. I try my best to do it at least once a day but in fact, it can be done a few times in a day as you desire. Continue reading to learn more about this simple yet effective practise.


Who should do it?

ANYONE. No contraindications for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Shouldn't be an issue for anyone suffering from any eye disorder but please consult your doctor if you are unsure and if you have undergone any form of eye surgery. Make sure to remove your contact lens, if you wear any, before you begin eye washing.


When to do it?

ANYTIME OF THE DAY.


How to do it?


  1. Fill up your eye cup with clean, room temperature water up to the rim. Try not to use tap water.
  2. Bring the water in contact with your eye ball.
  3. Blink and roll your eye ball in the water for about 1 to 2 minutes
  4. Discard the water, fill up the eye cup again and repeat on the other eye.
  5. You can repeat the steps above 3 to 5 times.

* Important: Make sure not to rub or even touch your eye area once you complete each round of eye washing. Just wipe the excess water on the cheeks but do not go close to the eye area. Allow the eyes to rest completely.


What really happens during eye washing?

Imagine giving your eye balls a much deserved bath. Remove impurities collected in the eyes, refresh and feel a cooling sensation through eye washing. If you feel any burning sensation or irritation, don't be alarmed because it's a natural reaction as the eyes are going through a "cleanse".


Benefits.

  1. Remove dusts and impurities.
  2. Refreshes the eyes and reduces excess body heat.
  3. Improves vision, reduces eye strain and heals eye conditions.
  4. Relieves itchiness or discomfort that can come from allergies, environmental conditions or contact with chemicals.
  5. Helpful for migraine, headaches and sleep disorders.

That was easy. Not just to read but it's super easy to practise too. I will try to get information on where you can get these eye cups if you are interested in getting them for yourself. Although, I think you can get them at your local pharmacies, but it does come with the chemical eye wash solution. Let me know if you ever give this a try or if you have been practising, share with me what changes you have experienced. WASH YOUR EYES PEOPLE!

~M~


Saturday, 1 March 2014

A Fresh Start.

 Hello!!! It is my very FIRST blog post and I am super excited about it. THANK YOU for taking your precious time to visit my page and to read my posts. As you may or may not have read the little 'introduction' column on the right side of the home page, I am a yoga student/instructor-in-the-making. My life mostly revolves around yoga and the people related to this field as I chose to make it my full time career. What I love about being a student/instructor at this point in my life is I get to embrace the experience of being on both sides of the mat. When I am the student I learn to listen to instructions and this experience alone teaches me how to improve myself when I am giving instructions to others. Being on both ends of the spectrum is really an advantage because I can see what works and what to improve. 

The idea of blogging came to me when I was thinking of ways to spread the goodness that I was experiencing in yoga. Yes, we can always find classes to attend especially if you live in Kuala Lumpur. Generally, the things you learn this week won't be the same next week. So I was always curious about how much do people remember from what they learn? How do they practice if they cannot remember what they have learnt? This is when the bulb in my head lighted  up. TING! 'Bliss with Yoga' was born. I wanted to create a place where anyone can come and refresh their memory on what has been taught and continue to enjoy the benefits at home. My version of an online library.


'Yoga' by Jack Affleck
Although this blog is primarily dedicated to yoga related topics, I do want to make it more fun by sharing my thoughts and insights on various activities and subjects. I will be including some food and nutrition related posts along with information on health issues and general wellness. Do send me your questions and requests so that I can do more posts on them. I really hope anyone reading will benefit from the posts and use it as a guide to lead a better life. Every single post does not contain my effort alone. I have a bunch of people helping me along the way. I want to take a moment to appreciate and thank everyone who is helping me make this effort possible. You know who you are. They will be constantly mentioned along my journey of blogging. 

We may have passed the first day of the New Year, but I believe it is never too late to start a new journey. Come join me and lets have a FRESH START! 

~M~