Give Yourself Permission to Shine

Sometimes I find myself not really doing all I want to be doing or know that I am capable of doing. Then come in the echoing comments from school teachers, “She doesn’t work to her full potential…” Beh. Do you find the same thing? Ok maybe not the school teacher thing, but maybe you are bursting at the seams with great ideas. Then when you look around, you change your mind and give yourself a million reasons why you can’t possibly go through with it.
Ok. This is fear talking!! And believe it or not, some of us have a fear of success (A good book that addresses this is The Artists Way by Julia Cameron). But I guess we can sit in our safe (yet totally uninspiring) jobs/cities/houses/relationships, where it’s easy OR we can actually make a move. And in that, do something great for the world and for ourselves. It’s not always easy, but sometimes you need a little sparkle of light and love to keep you going. The poem below does that for me. I only know of it because Kimberly Wilson (Isn’t she a doll!? Ah, my favorite little yogini) shared it with us at her book signing. If it resonates, print it and put it next to your uninspiring thing in life.
Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Thyroid Challenge | Breakin out

Hey! Since starting my thyroid challenge, I’ve notice a change. There are a ton of zits near my throat! I’m totally breaking out! Rats. I’ve never gotten zits there in my life. I wonder if it’s the thyroid toxins oozing out? Seems kinda odd that it’s all around that area doesn’t it? Look! And it’s sooo gross and I’m kinda sad :(

But it’s also kind of interesting. My body seems like it’s doin’ it’s thang with the help of the yoga poses. I’ve actually received suggestions about herbs and other things to try for the hypothyroidism, but I really want to try JUST yoga to see if it works. To me, that would just be so awesome. So I’m goin’ bare bones with this. Plus! The yoga teacher in India said that if you do the poses for one month, your thyroid will be fixed. I’m testing the theory to a tee.

Ok, that’s all for now! Next step will be reducing the meds in a few more weeks…keep you posted! xo

5 Spices for the Brain

Check it out! Someone has their finger on the pulse of Ayurvedic spices. Eeeeven if they don’t call them “Ayurvedic.” Those of you who are my clients, know that I recommend these often. xo!

New scientific research backs up Ayurveda: 5 spices that are good for the brain!

MonicaB featured on Tranquility du Jour podcast

Hey! Anyone out there know who Kimberly Wilson is? If not, you will really dig all the great things she does. She is an entrepreneur, yogini, author (Hip Tranquil Chick and Tranqulista), non-profit owner, AND eco-designer! Whew! She has a beautiful yoga studio (studio. 3 floors!) in Washington DC that she has nourished and watched flourish for the past 10 years.

I stumbled upon her and was so inspired that I immediately signed up for her yoga studio’s newsletter, even though I lived in San Francisco. Five years later, after the Uni (that’s my nickname for the Universe) aligned our paths a few times, I was a guest on her Tranquility du Jour Podcast today. I love how life works! Kimberly continues to be such a source of inspiration for me. She’s an absolute delight and is as much fun as she is wise. If you ever have the opportunity to go to one of her workshops, yoga classes, or retreats, your mind and heart will be instantly rejuvenated! You can enjoy more of her podcasts too – she makes it easy to listen to the archives. yay!

Podcast link:
Tranquility Du Jour Podcast on Ayurveda | Kimberly Wilson & Monica Bloom

More about Kimberly

Keep Calm & Carry On

I would never call myself “zen.” In fact, I’m pretty far from it (ask anyone who knows me). BUT! I do have a tool of sanity that I use quite often. I practice a lot and I’m getting better at it. It saves me from filling with anxiety or hanging onto stabbing pains of grief. It lifts me from sorrow and relieves me from being a complete stress ball (I have loosely tied stress, but it’s not a ball).

Over the past two weeks I have encountered several complaints from friends about how they feel and it all relates to not staying present. A friend was afraid of being hurt when dating a new guy, so she decided not to act like herself. Another friend has kept herself so busy with her own business that she hasn’t had a weekend for herself in 5 years! Another friend emailed me today who expressed overall sadness and she’s not sure why.

My guess is this. We are so in our heads about the “what-ifs” in worrying about the future, that we FORGET to live right now. Right here, right now (Jesus Jones. Aw, come on! You know you were thinkin it…) is all that matters because the past is gone and the future hasn’t happened yet. We can create this turmoil by chasing large goals and forgetting about today. Or maybe we worry so much about having a failing relationship, that we don’t let it begin. Maybe we can’t let go of the past and we punish ourselves by reliving old arguments or experiences.

Stay here. Take a breath. Look around. Are you safe? Are you warm? Everything seems ok? Ok. Then you can manage it. One little step at a time and stay here. Enjoy the peace of what is now.

My worklife (day job) has changed so much in the past two days, it’s staggering (or comical). But all I can do is what I can do. I am not going to spend my time and energy in a panic worrying about the future. Nor am I going to spend my time and energy reminiscing about what used to be and how great it was. Why bother? None of those things exist. So, I stay neatly in place and carry on. And I find that amongst all the crazy change, I remain quite happy.

So look at your world. What do you really have to worry about? And what is made up? When you are stressed, anxious, or depressed, ask yourself if it’s because of something happening right NOW or is your mind causing your own stress?

Live in the now. And like the Brits said on the WWII poster below, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” xoxoxo

Ghee-Licious Flavors!!

Yaaaay!! My dream has come true. The ghee man (Sandeep! From Pure Indian Foods. 1.877.LUV.GHEE) has created some knock-your-socks-off ghee flavors! In addition to the original grass-fed ghee, now there are 6 different flavors of the ghee infused with healing herbs and spices. Woooo!!

They are all tasty and an easy addition to make meals extra good. Did I mention that ghee is the numero uno best friend of vata & pitta? Ghee reaches and nourishes all tissues (the best lubricator), it’s sattvic, it’s the only oil that increases agni (digestive fire/metabolsim), and it’s cooling for pitta. Below are the six flavors Sandeep and family have created with the love of cows in mind :)

1. Digestive (MonicaB Favorite!!): Ghee infused with cinnamon, cardamom, & ginger. Great on toast! Tastes like a cinnamon roll. Good for digestion.
2. Garlic (MonicaB Favorite!!): Ghee infused with garlic. Great on pasta, stir fried veggies, bread roll, homemade pizzas (spread on the crust). Good to help remove ama (toxins).
3. Indian Dessert: Ghee infused with fennel, cardamom, & saffron. Good for digestion and peace of mind.
4. Italian Herbs: Ghee infused with oregano, thyme, rosemary. Use on oven baked potato pieces, drizzle on veggies and add sea salt & pepper.
5.  Herbes de Provence: Ghee infused thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, lavender flowers. Add to caprese sandwiches, pasta with asparagus.
6. Niter Kebbeh: Ghee infused cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, tumeric, nutmeg. Nice on rice.

Go order some from Sandeep! | | His family has been making this for 5 generations and their website has a ton of great information on ghee too. And be sure to tell him MonicaB sent you!

Warm Saffron Cocktail

If you are a vata or pitta type, you might have a tendency to get stressed (who doesn’t, right?) and perhaps worries of the future can creep in to cause some anxiety. When a client of mine was feeling anxious, ungrounded, wound up, and stressed, I told her to “wrap herself in a fuzzy blanket” with this little cocktail below.

Any time you feel like you have nothing to hold on to or that you are about to come unhitched, give it a try. This tiny drink is also great if you have a feeling of “emptiness” in your heart. It soothes both vata/pitta doshas and the ingredients are sattvic, which means that they are pure harmony for your entire being. And, it’s quite yummy!!

Small glass of warm milk
Add one strand of saffron
Can sweeten with brown or rock sugar if desired

Saffron is pricey. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can get a wee tiny (I mean wee tiny, it’s super small. You may have to ask for it) for about $6. But don’t be sad, it will last you a good while. Hopefully by the time the jar is finished, you won’t need to make them any more :)

Bit Of Wisdom {25}

Remember, WE control how we feel. Always. If you don’t like how you feel, YOU can change it in an instant. Light a candle, give a hug, say a prayer, be grateful for 10 things, do so hum, burn incense, give a smile, rub your feet or temples. And most of all, train yourself to think positive. Always. xo.

MonicaB’s Thyroid Challenge!

Yay! I’m on a quest to cure my own thyroid! Before you get all excited and want to share with your loved ones, let me do it on myself first to see if it works.

Here’s what’s goin on. I’ve had hypothyroidism since I was about 15 (well, that’s when they caught it). I am 34 now, so I’ve been on thyroid meds for…math…19 years. The bad thing is that if I stay on these meds too long, there is a chance that my thyroid will get lazier and lazier and eventually stop working. It works like any ole’ machine and if you don’t use it, it will rust and forget how to work. Same same with our bodies.

So! I’ve decided to do something about this. When I was in India this past Jan/Feb, I had a yoga class every day. And he gave us some poses to help cure thyroid. The yogi said that if you do these poses every day for one month, you will not have any more thyroid problems. I was also told in India that driving to the next town would take 3 hours when it really took 6, so I was a bit leery of his promise.

However! I’m going to try it. Essentially the thyroid needs to be trained on how to work again so slowly with these poses the thyroid (chugga chugga) can get functioning to it’s full capacity again. The two poses below, shoulder stand and fish pose, compress and expand the thyroid gland. In a sense, it’s doing a bit of massaging to the area. Through this, it should stimulate proper functioning! it’s a slow process, but here is my plan.

• Every day I need to do shoulder stand (saravangasana) holding for about 5 minutes and can do up to 10. More details on shoulder stand

• And every day I need to do fish pose (matyasana) and hold for 3-5 breaths, repeating 3-5 times. More details on fish pose

• After doing these poses DAILY for 30 days, my doctor-doctor (Western MD who is open to eastern healing) will reduce my levothyroxin dosage by .25 micrograms. Hopefully this will leave a little wiggle room for the thyroid to begin working – it suddenly has a job to do again!!

• Then I’ll get my blood checked and see if hormone levels are normal with the lower dosage. If so, it works!! And I will continue to do so until I’m off meds.

So that’s the plan, Stan. Again, I don’t suggest that anyone try this. If I do it and it works, I’ll let you know. Then you need to get an MD on board to help you. I’ll keep you posted on my crusade to heal America through my own experiments! After all, the rule is that you have to heal yourself before you can heal others. Cross my heart. xo.

Bit of Wisdom {24}

Carry your yoga practice off the mat and into life! No matter the situation, stay at peace and go with the flow. Practice navigating your little boat steadily while waves of life change around you. Happy Friday. Namaste. xo

4th Dosha Uncovered!!

Heehee. A wee bit of nerdy Ayurvedic humor for ya. There are only three doshas – you should know them! Have a great day!

MonicaB’s Lassi Recipe

Yeah! I’ve got my coworker hooked on lassi. She discovered it because she had the flu a couple weeks ago and we helped repair her digestion with lassi. Like magic!

Lassi is a yogurt drink made especially to enhance digestion. Please note that while made from yogurt, lassi is not yogurt. In fact, they have completely opposite qualities. Yogurt as we know, is a channel clogger. I know you might not believe me, you might even be mad at me for saying that, but according to Ayurveda it’s the truth. The marketing people at yogurt companies might sell us stories about probiotics and acidopholopohous or whatever it is, but I stand by my belief that yogurt clogs.

If you have any problems with allergies, slow metabolism, cloudy mind, lethargy, tendency toward being cold, sinus problems and/or chest congestion, try stopping the yogurt. Just try it for a week and see how you feel. You can always go back to yogurt if you want but my guess is that you will feel better. Ok, I digress.

BUT! We’re not talking about yogurt, we are talking about lassi (I wish I could put a pink tutu on that word because I love it so much. hmm…idea for a graphic! Love it when that happens)!! Beautiful, channel opening lassi!! Lassi is made from yogurt, but it’s properties are changed by adding water, herbs and spices and then churning it. Churning adds heat which changes the yogurt from cold, gloppy, goo-glue into a fluid substance that is channel opening and great for aiding digestion. It’s easy to accumulate ama with yogurt, but lassi doesn’t clog so you stay ama free. It’s also great for indigestion and hyper acidity as it’s cooling. Great for pitta types who like yogurt – yogurt imbalances and lassi balances (like a ballerina!).

A very magic secret about lassi is that it’s THEE  cure for hemorhoids! Have one after dinner or for a snack daily and your hemorhoids will go away. Not kidding.

I think you will find that lassi’s are quite delish and there are many recipes for them (just google). Below is my recipe that I use (pitta-vata type). Sometimes I even skip dinner and just have a lassi because it makes a nice light meal to aid digesting food from the day.

Monica B’s Lassi Recipe
1 part plain, full fat yogurt – 1/3 cup is good to start
2 (vata, pitta) or 3 (kapha) parts water
ginger powder, cardamom, honey, all to taste
Use a whisk or hand blender and CHURN!! For about 2 minutes. It will get liquidy and a little frothy. Pour into a cup and you can sprinkle extra cardamom on the top if you want. MM!

Tip: Safflower oil great for skin

Hey!! Safflower is a GREAT oil to use in place of body lotion (a la chemicals) for spring and summer. It’s natural, lightweight, non-heating and makes skin sooooo smooth. I LOVE it! Also apply at night around the eyes to reduce crows feet. xo!

Tip: Honey is heating

Hello Honey! ;) Honey might seem sweet, sticky, and heavy. But! It has a special quality (kinda magical) in which it digests hot, sharp, and drying. Great for heating up spring colds and clearing out kapha. That’s why honey is great for colds, mucus in the chest or snotty sinus problems. Oh and use the raw, unpasteurized stuff so that you get honey in it’s purest, most medicinal form. Go get em, honey. Mmmwaah!

Kapha Graces us with Spring

Ok folks, vata has left the building and it’s time to make way for the graceful entry of kapha season, spring! March 21st officially marks the start of spring when nature starts to wake up and become alive again. If we live in a climate with harsh winter we might feel REALLY refreshed when the snow melts and we see tulips or crocus poking out of the ground. Our first glimpse of grass might feel like heaven (I used to live in Wisconsin and I know their winter pain :). Rain nourishes all that was sleeping all winter. And after the rain is the sweet reward of buds on trees, flower beds, and the fresh smell of cut grass. And if you notice…peoples’ moods start to improve. Right!? Don’t forget that the weather makes a huge difference on us because weather (nature) governs our beings.

Kapha is the energy of lubrication and structure which nourishes our bodies just as it does in nature. Contrary to vata energy that is dry, light, cold, mobile and rough, the nature of kapha is wet, heavy, cold, static and smooth. It is a heavy energy responsible for creation and renewal. Unfortunately kapha season also brings spring colds, allergies, asthma, to certain people. If these things affect you, that’s a good clue that you have some kapha in you. The heavy, wet, sticky energy of kapha will grab onto particles in the air and “hold” them, which might cause excess mucus in the chest or nasal passages.

Here are some tips to stay healthy and balanced in spring, especially if you are a kapha person. If you’re not sure, take the dosha quiz!

Like increases like. To stay balanced in spring, we want to incorporate all things opposite of the wet, heavy, cold, static and smooth qualities of kapha. Eating foods that are dry, light, warm/spicy, liquid and fiberous will help kapha move so that it doesn’t get stuck in places! Ginger is great

Lighten up. Since kapha energy is heavy, this is a great time for lightening our load. Choose lighter foods, incorporate daily exercise (to keep bodies light), or donate clothes we no longer wear. Keeping light is key for kapha.

Clean it out. It’s not weird at all that we feel AWESOME when we’ve done some spring cleaning. It’s because nature wants us to! And that’s not just for the house either. Consider doing a spring cleanse for your bod as it will remove toxins due to sluggish winter digestion. Fasting is a form of cleansing and kapha types should fast by skipping dinner one night a week. Their metabolism tends to be sluggish and fasting will help their digestion catch up!

Neti Pot. The neti pot is the magic cure for all kapha allergies and sinus problems. I swear it works and have had numerous clients sing it’s praises. If you are snotted up or have pollen floating around in there, rinse it out! ;)

Light and Small Food. Because kapha is naturally heavy, it easily gets weighed down. Having small meals will be key. Really pay attention to your hunger so as no to overeat. Overeating is the quickest way to imbalance kapha.

No Yogurt. Yogurt has identical qualities to kapha and it’s a channel clogger which can make allergies, colds, asthma much worse.

Aromatherapy. Bergamot, citrus, lavender, basil.

So the basic rules are, if you are a kapha-type person stay light, dry, and warm. And keep moving! Enjoy the graceful, peaceful and refreshing entry into spring!!

Health Freedom Expo, Long Beach

Hey, folks in the LA area!

There is a cool Health Freedom Expo in Long Beach coming up on March 26th & 27th. Unfortunately I will be out of town that weekend but if you are interested in going, I have been given access to free tickets. NOW who’s your favorite Ayurvedic chick!? Just kidding. These tickets were generously given to us by the fabulous folks from The Business Muse. Thank you thank you Business Muse!!!

East vs. West

East vs. west. I try and spread the good word on Ayurveda authentically, yet as American-friendly as possible. It’s funny though because people will come to me and say, “I’m congested! What should I do?” And I might say, “Are you eating yogurt? It’s a no-good channel clogger which can increase sinus congestion and mucus goo in your chest. ” They might say, “But yogurt is so GOOD for you with all the probiotics and everything…” And then I say, “Well, that’s what ‘they’ say but they are not Ayurvedic and Ayurveda is different.”

Then very quickly they get confused as to why something in Ayurveda can completely contradict what we have been told or sold (don’t forget about marketing, you guys! It makes companies a lot of money…) in the western world. But that’s just the point. If someone is asking Ayurvedic advice, it’s going to differ that what their MD has told them or from what they see on tv…because it’s different!! Ayurveda takes time and definitely requires a willingness to try something new. If our old habits (and prescriptions) had worked, we wouldn’t be on the search to try something else.

So my dear friends, if you seek something different, expect something different. The philosophies of Ayurveda vs. Western (east vs. west) medicine are very different and therefore so are the treatments. I’m not saying one is good or bad because both have their place. But please keep them in different buckets because they don’t overlap much. Below I’ve created a little chart on how they differ and I hope this helps.

And for the record! Ghee is NOT butter. Buttermilk (churned yogurt or lassi) is NOT yogurt. Their properties differ making them almost opposites and in Ayurveda the first is healthier than the latter (for most folks). Please o’ please just believe me. xoxoxo.

Bit of Wisdom {23}

Choosing the path of self-healing (no matter what form) is choosing the path of self-LOVE! Once you start to truly love yourself, you will heal. Cross my heart.

The Flu Caught Me

Rats. After escaping India with out ONE digestion problem and despite knowing general tips on how to avoid the flu, I got it this weekend. The Flu. I got it at 3:30 am on Saturday and thought it was food poisoning, but then came the aches and a slight fever. I’ve never had food poisoning but was pretty sure it didn’t come with aches and fever. Then I found out that two coworkers had it too. Double rats.

In Ayurveda we say that when the body is trying to rid something either thru-est thine butt or thru-est thine mouth (IF ya know what I mean) we have to let it take its course. Here’s why. If we stop something like diarrhea, the body can’t get rid the problem, so it’s never good to take a diarrhea stopper. However! If there is a point where the diarrhea turns to water, then we have to stop it because then the person is just losing fluids. Make sense?

Allow me to be gross for a minute (if I haven’t already). I assumed the same was true for throwing up. And I got to the point where it was SO painful and there was nothing left but water and bile, so I knew I had to stop it. <<gross part done!>>

SO! Here is what I did! I managed to slooowly creep downstairs to make myself a lassi. You know it? Lassi is a digestive buttermilk (hang on, I’ll explain) drink made with spices depending on the person. Lassi opens all the channels, aids digestion, coats the stomach, calms pitta (bile!) and vata, and for some reason my intuition told me to make one. Here’s how I made it:

1/3 c plain full fat yogurt
1/2 tsp ginger (helps all digestive problems)
1/4 cardamom (calms vata & pitta)
brown sugar to taste

Combine in a bowl and then churn for 2 minutes! You can either use a whisk or put it in a blender. Or if you have one of those wooden mallot things that you can spin (I found mine in India), you can use that. This will add the heat element to the yogurt and water and make it frothy. The heat element is what changes the properties in the yogurt. Yogurt by itself is a channel blocker, but lassi is a channel opener!!

The resuls?! I didn’t throw up any more! It was instantly cooling, soothing and my cramps stopped. My stomach felt a million times better. That said, the rest of me still felt like garbage but at least the trips to the bathroom had stopped. After that I just tried to sleep and I took one ibuprofen (yes I did! I am human and I was in pain!) to stop the aches. When I’m more advanced in my studies maybe I’ll come up with something that stops aches, but for now I’ll just be happy that lassi works!! The good news is that this nasty lil flu only lasts 24 hours, so if you get it rest, rest, rest. Be well my friends.

Sit n’ Eat

Hey hey! A while back I was counseling a dear coworker of mine who was a bride-to-be. Like many brides she wanted to trim up through diet and exercise, so one of the things I suggested she do is STOP walking around with food in her hand. It’s true right?! Whether at work, a social gathering, or even while cooking our own dinner (I’m guilty!), we might mindlessly snitch foods, walk around and yap.

The problem is, this totally disconnects us from the process of digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth and when we don’t pay attention to it, we a) don’t enjoy what we are eating and b) don’t remember that we ate. If we don’t enjoy our food, we won’t feel satisfied nor will food digest properly because the mouth (first stage of digestion!) relies on taste for digestion. On top of that if we don’t remember what we ate we are VERY likely to overeat.

The best thing we can do is keep our mind in our food. Cause dude remember, mind rules our body and when our mind is not connected to our actions, it’s almost like it didn’t happen! Crazy. The downfall is that calories DO happen whether you remember them or not ;)

So here’s my MonicaB Challenge: For the month of March avoid eating while standing up or walking around. Yeah? Can you do it?

The goal is to feel REAL hunger and practice mindful eating rather than just mindless snackin’!