The digital age and tea

I am fortunate enough to work for an amazing animation studio (with a long legacy to boot!)  The past couple of weeks there have been a slew of interesting guest speakers and field trips that have really provoked thoughts on the digital age we reside in.

The animation industry moved from 2D (hand drawn) to what most people currently see out in the theaters 3D (computer generated.)  With this change came the transition to use Photoshop to create the art and backgrounds as opposed to hand painting.  I’ve always been a little dismayed by this concept.  I realize that it is quicker and cheaper and easier to make changes but what have we lost with this digital transition?  The company I work for has a library of artwork steaming back from its first feature film.  Beautiful works of art which are now carefully preserved for future admirers.  I wrestle with the disheartening feeling, now that we have moved to a mainly digital media, what will we have to show to inspire the next generation?  A Photoshop JPG (albeit equally as crafted) can never take the place of a tactile canvas.  There are no brush strokes to absorb; the smell, texture.. it’s all taken away with a digital piece of art.

In yoga we are taught about balance and moderation.  Everything has its place.  I wonder in this technical age if we can find that balance?  What if the great Masters only painted in Photoshop would the Mona Lisa have the same appeal?  Would she hang quite as majestically?  It is easy to be seduced by “convenience” but let’s step back a moment and realize the impact it has on the grand scheme of things.

I think of tea and the advent of the tea bag.  To have a perfect cup of tea it is a timely process, it becomes almost a meditation.  If we were left with only low-grade tea bags filled with “tea” fannings our palettes would surely suffer.

I have an IPhone and a laptop however, to unplug I still go to bed at night with a real book on my bedside table and a good cup of slow brewed loose leaf tea……

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa jpg- see not the same

Good cup of chai tea

Good cup of chai tea

Good book

Good book

Sunrise yoga

 

Lately I haven’t had much of a chance to attend my morning yoga classes.  Work has been insanely busy and when waking at 5:30 am I am torn between staying in bed to contemplate life or getting out for a good stretch!  This morning I decided to attempt both.  I face the Griffith park hills and have this really awesome private-ish patio.  Each morning I see the sun rising I tell myself I will do yoga on my patio, well this morning I actually did!

The sun was just beginning to rise above the hills, there was a sliver of the waning moon still in the sky.  I laid out my mat and began with some simple breathing and meditative exercises.  Soon it moved into gentle stretches and mini sun salutations. It wasn’t a strenuous feat but I think until I can get back into my normal routine this could possible be a nice way to start the morning.  Just as I was doing my routine I noticed my little hummingbird buddy coming back to curiously buzz about the tree near my patio:)

Of course I blame all of this inspiration on my new nail polish from O.P.I cleverly called,  Sun Salutation!

This is close to what my morning moon looked like – insert a bit of warm horizon:)

 

My favorite new polish!

O.P.I Sun Salutation

 

Namaste!

 

Summer Solstice

Last night at Yoga Blend I celebrated Summer Solstice with an amazing group of ladies and a few men.   I have been in the habit lately of trying to get back to nature and the roots of our existence.  I work in an industry where it is highly technical and spend loads of time on the computer.  So in order to balance the scale I love to attend similar events to learn and grow from a place that is more natural.

The Summer Solstice as I learned is the height of everything in nature.  It is the climax of energy and rebirth.  It is the time to welcome in a change to start fresh.

This morning when I woke up and feeling less than reborn.  I made a cup of tea and sat near my window facing the hills.  As I read through a story that a friend and myself are working on, a hummingbird came poking at my window!  If I lived in the country this would be a normal occurrence but I live in LA– I see hummingbirds on hikes and walks in the hills but never so close as to visit me at my own window!  It really put a smile on my face:)

Of course, being a girl of technology I had to Google what the meaning of a hummingbird symbolizes and found the following information:

Hummingbirds, called new world birds cause they are native to North America, Central and South America, are considered to be symbols of peace, love and happiness, moreover, ancient pagans held them sacred for their tireless energy and anxiety.
In Native American culture, a hummingbird symbolizes timeless joy and the Nectar of Life. It’s a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances.

I am so happy to have had my morning visitor and again I am amazed how nature puts life back into perspective.

My morning visitor
(image borrowed from the web)

Full moon and the Sacred Female Flow

Last night I attended a workshop called the “Sacred Female Flow” hosted by the always lovely Bekah Turner of Yoga Blend.  The workshop centered around the mid spring holiday of Beltane and the Scorpio full moon.  It’s a spiritual night which at the peak of the season should bring on a surge of female fertility, inspiration and energy.  It’s a celebration of the Ancient ways that are sometimes lost in our Modern world.  How we as Women connect to the Mother Earth; Body, Soul and Spirit.  Also, it’s a reason for a wonderful group of women to form a circle- chant, meditate and just feel good about ourselves and our bodies.

It was a beautiful night and a beautiful moon.  After our ritual and celebration I headed home and sat on my patio with a cup of Gypsy’s Dragon Well green tea.  I stared at the moon and contemplated life and its various changes and how I want to continue to explore my own connection with the Earth.  She gives us so much and I want to begin giving a bit more gratitude to the original creator and mother of us all.

Happy Mother’s Day to our Mother Earth:)

borrowed from a lovely blog I found online http://www.vibrakeys.com/wordpress/

borrowed from seilju’s flickr site

Yoga and Gypsy Tea….

Last night after a long day of training on new software at work, I dragged myself to a 7:30pm yoga class at Yoga Blend.  It is a mixed level class taught by Christy, the owner.  She is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever had.  She has such a warm and welcoming personality.  She always does something different with her class and presents a flow that is inspiring and creative.  Upon leaving her class I feel grounded, happy, safe and secure.  She always gets the energy and juices flowing that really open the mind and the heart.  I was completely exhausted from all the mental powers I had to utilize during my day but leaving her class last night I felt my body and soul cleared out and room made for more that was to come.  I’m thankful to have found her studio and happy to be back in her warm presence.

While practicing at Yoga Blend last year I discovered Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.  I am also thankful to have found this tea because I really do love it.  Christy keeps a wide variety of flavors out and available for pre/post yoga class.  It is a perfect way to finish a class and bask in the glow of doing something good for our bodies.  If you haven’t tried Gypsy tea I suggest checking it out!  The woman behind the company also has an inspiring story which will make you feel glad that you support her tea and her business.

Regardless of how tired or mentally fatigued you feel, do something good for yourself today:)

http://www.gypsytea.com/

The Goji Cacao Berry and the Coconut Chai are two of my favorites!

 

 

Clearing your mind with yoga- and a smelly mat

I’ve recently relocated back to Los Angeles for work.  I arrived over the weekend and for some reason the jet lag really hit me, I was also extremely achy from the flight and stress of the move.  I hadn’t been to a yoga class or even attempted yoga on my own in over a week.  I knew I needed to get back into the swing of things so Monday morning set my alarm for 5:15am and made it to my first early morning class back at Yoga Blend.

My usual yoga mat is a bit on the thick side so I brought my thinner traveling mat.  This mat I bought just before I attended my yoga teacher training in Costa Rica and used it the entire time I was there.  The mat has seen a lot of action so it is fairly dirty and very thin.  There were a couple of times in the past where I nearly donated it or threw it in a Goodwill pile.  However, it always brought me good memories and a connection to a very happy time in my life.  So it stuck around:)  On this particular Monday I used it for my practice.

I unrolled the mat a bit embarrassed by its appearance, hoping in vain that the lights in class would soon go off.  As I settled down into my mat and began my pre-class relaxation stretches the mat no longer offended me.  In fact it felt very warm and inviting.  Once we began practice, upon my first Chaturanga as I lowered down and deepened my breath I had this overwhelming sensation of being back in Costa Rica.  The mat literally smells exactly like my memory of the trip.  I was so overjoyed I wanted to sniff the mat some more!  Each pose and each time I was close to the mat I inhaled deeply and the memories of my trip and the happiness of that moment came rushing back.

After class I decided to stop by this apartment I kept seeing online.  It is a  small apartment community in Burbank near the Equestrian center.  I’m not a huge fan of amenity driven, homogenized complexes but after driving past twice I decided to pop in for a look.  I was only going to look.  However, when I saw it and I spoke with the leasing agent, I knew this is exactly where I needed to be.  I will be moving into my new home on Wednesday and I’m getting more and more excited.  In fact, they even have a small yoga studio on the premises.  The manager mentioned they would love to have a resident teach a class once a week.  It definitely has peaked my interest.

I truly do not think I would have had the clarity had I not dragged myself out of bed yesterday morning to attend my first class in LA.  I also feel that the strong smell of the mat and the happiness it invoked really brought me to a level of understanding what I was searching for.

Enjoying a cup of tea

 

 

 

 

 

while watching the sunrise in Costa Rica:)

What to do when you brew

To brew a proper cuppa it takes a bit longer than your average tea bag, however the results are so much more fulfilling.  When brewing my favorite morning tea- chai, it can be steeped anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes and because it is a black tea the water should be completely boiled (about 212 degrees.)

What this means is an average of 10 to 15 minutes of your morning is spent making this warm, spicy elixir. Somewhat of a luxury for a girl on the go!  And you know what they say; a watched kettle never boils:)

Always looking for a way to multitask, I’ve been doing a mini yoga routine while preparing chai tea.

  1. Start in Tadasana– take a few deep cleansing breaths
  2. Inhale arms up over head and exhale down by your side (do several to warm the body)
  3. With feet hip width apart- move into gentle side stretches– move slowly from left to right.  Remember to breath, inhale left arm up and exhale stretch to the right side, while right arm travels down side of the body.  *Repeat on other side (again, do several to warm the body up)
  4. Mini sun salutations– Repeat step “2,” only this time include a forward fold.  Let the head drop below the heart, grab opposite elbows, sway and move hips while you gloriously drink in the lower back stretch you will receive.  (Repeat a few rounds)
  5. If you are feeling warmed up, delight the upper body with a fulfilling shoulder stretch.  This can be gomukasana arms, eagle arms or interlace hands behind the back and lower the body forward, stretching the arms up overhead.  Rolling the shoulders back to receive the shoulder stretch.

Be sure to set a timer so you don’t become too absorbed in the relaxation of yoga and forget about your tea:)

Tea tips

  • For Black Tea– boil water (205- 212 degrees)
  • Pour a bit of water over the leaves to “wake” them up- swirl and pour out the water.
  • With leaves “awake” fill tea pot with boiling water
  • Set timer (black chai- 5-10 minutes or more if so desired – I’ve been loving Elmwood Inn’s Indian Chai)
  • Pour in a cup – add a touch of honey and your favorite milk product ( I love almond milk with mine!)
  • Drink in the joy of starting your day off right!

Sweet Dreams…..

Lately, I have been hearing from many friends of their inability to sleep at night.  There are times in my life where I’ve had bouts of insomnia as well as being someone who suffers from anxiety (should explain my yoga and tea connection:)  In these situations I’ve always tried to take a more natural approach to healing my body whenever possible.  I am not a doctor or a holistic healer by trade, however, I’d like to share a few things which have helped me when I’m finding it hard to snuggle up at night and get a restful sleep.  As always, go by what your body tells you and do your own research into the matter and if you have a doctor/natural practitioner who you trust consult he/she as well.

TEA

In the later part of the evening I usually try to avoid caffeine or a tea with very low caffeine content, some alternatives which are naturally caffeine free to try would be an herbal infusion or a Rooibos tea.

Chamomile an herb which has a long history as a relaxant as well as other health benefits.

Valerian Root was recommended to me last year when I was having a lot of trouble sleeping.  I swear by this herb.  I take the Gaia brand capsule.  I haven’t found the ingredient in tea as of yet but I’m sure it must exist:)

Lavender is another “magic” herb for me!  I keep Aura Cacia Lavender calming oil in my bedside table.  I sniff it or place a couple of drops behind my ears.  Lavender also pops up in many tea infusion.

Many tea blenders are beginning to also recognize the connection between yoga and tea and are coming up with their own unique blends.

Elmwood Inn Fine Teas– has recently launched their Ayurvedic Blends.  Which are low caffeine, soothing teas that promote relaxation.

http://store.elmwoodinn.com/search.aspx?find=ayurvedic+tea

I also keep a variety of Yogi Teas around.  One of my favorites is the Yogi Tea Bedtime tea.

http://www.yogiproducts.com/

***When looking for a “tea” keep in mind that any blend which contains the tea-plant, “camellia sinensis” will have caffeine, unless it specifically states that it is caffeine free, decaffeinated or low caffeine.

Yoga

One of my favorite yoga poses to promote a calm mind which in turn helps with sleep is legs up the wall.

photo courtesy of Yoga Journal

Also a great article I have come across in Yoga Journal giving some tips to help with calming the mind and having a peaceful night sleep.

http://www.yogajournal.com/dailyinsight/yjnl_20110217.html?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=site&utm_campaign=dailyinsight

And if all else fails.. snuggle up with your favorite sleeping companion:)

The day to honor our hearts….

Today is Valentine’s day.  As a little girl, before boys even entered the picture, my mother would take me to Drug Fair and let me pick out a packet of Valentine’s day cards.  You know the ones.. the little single cards that you buy in bulk for the entire classroom.  As the years have passed and boys have entered the picture, I still reminisce about a simpler time when Valentine’s day was a special day for everyone not just those who have partners in life.  So in honor of a simpler time, I wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day!

In yoga practice we often honor our fourth chakra called Anahata Chakra (heart) with various stretches that open our chests and hearts to the possibility of wholeness and boundless love.  Honor your little ticker with a few heart opening stretches.  One of my favorites is bridge pose (http://www.yogajournal.com/video/145)  Continue rewarding yourself with a bit of dark chocolate and a cup of Lover’s Leap tea.  Lover’s Leap is a gorgeous black tea with a fascinating history from “Lover’s Leap Tea Estate in Sri Lanka.  I have mine courtesy of Tea 4 U,  http://www.tea4u.com/

And as Confucius says,

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

 

Yoga Ayurveda – Tea Season

There is nothing more comforting than to curl up with a good cup of tea on a cold, dreary winter day.  The yoga journal article below gives wonderful suggestions for the types of tea to drink for whatever ails you during the winter months.  The tea recipes are taken from the Ayurvedic tradition which seeks to keep the body and mind in balance with nature and keep disease and poor health at bay with prevention.

One herb that has been getting a lot of buzz is the Indian herb Tulsi or holy basil.  The herb is said to aid in detoxification, it’s rich in antioxidant and also known for its restorative powers.  My good friend Deb suggests the “Organic India,  Sweet Rose Tulsi.”  Tulsi can also be purchased in bulk to create your own healthy blends.

Yoga Journal – Yoga Ayurveda – Tea Season.

Tulsi herb

 

 

Organic India tulsi tea

 

 

 

Enjoy a cup to good health!