Living a Balanced Life

Last weekend I attended a YogaFit teacher training in Hood River.   The weather was perfect, sunny and warm, and our hotel overlooked the gorge!  I ate yummy food, did lots of yoga, meditated and met some cool people.  The focus of the weekend was meditation, and chakra balancing.

We discussed learning styles especially right brain vs. left brain.  Ideally we want a balance of left brain (where are my keys) and right brain (imagination, visualization, creativity etc).  This allows us to seamlessly move through our daily activities while feeling connected to those around us, having a sense of community.  Our instructor, Kristy Manuel showed us this video of Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who while having a stroke watches her brain functions shut down one by one – motion, speech, etc…   Hers is a fascinating story.  I love her ideas about how to connect more with our right brain, or creative side.  As she says our right brain thinks “We are perfect, whole and beautiful”

Also during the weekend we did several chakra meditations visualizing the colors, shapes, and qualities of the energy throughout our body.  We also incorporated the colors and characteristics of each chakra into our vinyasa yoga flow.

For the uninitiated, chakras are energy centers that connect to major organs and glands which govern certain parts of your body.  There are seven major chakras and their locations correspond to nerve bundles branching out from the spinal column.  They can be visualized as spinning wheels or vortexes, and each one has a separate color and sound associated with it.  Ideally all seven chakras should be balanced.  If our surroundings are healthy and positive, we receive positive energy and feel good.

Sometimes of course we may become out of balance, having an excess of energy in one area, or a deficiency in another.  How do we solve this problem?  One way is to meditate and visualize your energy flowing evenly throughout your body, There are specific chakra meditations available (we were using a “Chakra Balancing Workbook” by Anodea Judith) but a good start could be sitting quietly for five minutes and just listening to your body.

Try resting your hand on your lower belly and see how it feels.  Rest your hand on your heart or on the top of your head.  Do any of these areas feel more vibrant, louder, softer, bigger, more fluid?  Imagine light or warmth spreading up from your feet all the way out the top of your head, then back down out the bottoms of your feet grounding you into the earth.

I have done a chakra meditation several times in the last few weeks – last night at a bachelorette party for instance (it’s Portland – go figure) and see different things each time.   Sometimes one color is more vibrant or feels stronger, some times I can barely sense energy moving.  Experiment with tuning into your body and see if you can start to pick up the messages it is sending you.

Gazpacho – Summer tomato soup

A surprising number of my clients have food sensitivities or allergies garlic, onions, eggs, dairy and gluten.  One of my clients recently shared this summer soup recipe that is gluten-free and has no garlic or onions.   This is easy to prepare, healthy, low-calorie, refreshing and packed with flavor!


• 2 lbs (about eight) Roma tomatoes, chopped
• 1/2 a red bell pepper, chopped
• 1/2 a green bell pepper, chopped
• One cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
• 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
• 2 cups of tomato juice
• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons kosher salt
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1/4 cup lime juice

Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate for one hour. Transfer to a food processor (or use a hand blender) and blend until almost pureed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This soup makes a yummy side dish as is. To make this your main course toss in a few chunks of avocado, 5 or 6 boiled shrimp, a lime wedge, and a few springs of cilantro and serve with a slice of crusty bread.   Enjoy!

Are you Vitamin D deficient?

According to this N.Y. Times article you may not be getting enough Vitamin D.

Studies show that those suffering from Vitamin D deficiency are at a greater risk for developing certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders to name just a few.

A person’s vitamin D level is measured in the blood as 25-hydroxyvitamin D, considered the best indicator of sufficiency.  Maximum bone density is achieved when the blood serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D reaches 40 nanograms per milliliter or more.

The best source of Vitamin D is the sun and we may be able to absorb enough D in the summer to last the whole year.  According to Dr. Michael Holick, the author of “The Vitamin D Solution” we can get an adequate dose of D:

…by going outside in summer unprotected by sunscreen (except for the face, which should always be protected) wearing minimal clothing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. two or three times a week for 5 to 10 minutes.

The current recommended intake of vitamin D is 200 I.U. a day from birth to age 50 (including pregnant women); 400 for adults aged 50 to 70; and 600 for those older than 70.

While our bodies “make” Vitamin D from sun exposure we can also get some Vitamin D from foods such as wild-caught oily fish (salmon, mackerel, bluefish, and canned tuna) and fortified milk and baby formula, cereal and orange juice.  Experts say the amount we convert from these foods may not be enough and most recommend supplements – from an additional 200 IU’s to 2000 IUs a day – depending on who you ask.

Here’s Dr Weil’s take on Vitamin D deficiency. He recommends supplementing with 2000 IU’s a day and says:

No adverse effects have been seen with supplemental vitamin D intakes up to 10,000 IU daily. Exposing the face and hands to roughly 10 minutes of direct sunlight daily is also quite safe and a good way to boost vitamin D.

Here in the Pacific northwest where are especially sun deprived (sorry Portland – love you but it’s true) and we may need to supplement for optimum health.  A simple blood test will show if you are D deficient.  I suggest you discuss this with your health care practitioner if you are concerned that you may not be getting enough D.

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Corn

Listen up Portland – it is officially summer!  While here in the Pacific Northwest this may not necessarily mean shorts and flip-flops just yet, fresh corn is popping up in stores.  One of my clients passed along this grilled corn recipe (thanks Rick!) – it was a huge hit at his BBQ last weekend.

Try it yourself and let me know what you think.

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Corn:

  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned

In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients except corn.  Brush the sauce over each ear of corn then wrap each ear in aluminum foil (or if you want to get fancy – pull down the husks, pull off the silks, brush the corn with the sauce, wrap the husks back over the ears and tie the ends with a string or metal twist tie).

Cook on a very hot grill for thirty minutes turning occasionally.  Just before serving peel away the foil or husks, brush the corn again with any remaining sauce, serve and enjoy!