Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Embracing the Feminine Divine

I have always been a little jealous of those rare Earth Mother types who truly revel in their femininity, whose Moon Cycles are a source of joy, who are brave enough to embrace their bodies in their natural states and not force themselves into the impossible boxes the rest of us spend our lives trying to fit. I wonder how these women are able to find such self-acceptance in the face of the sea of voices telling us we are wrong at our core. Whether its how we should dress, who we should sleep with, how fat/thin we should be, what our boobs should look like, how we should age (or, rather, not age), how we should hide our periods, how hairy we should be, when/if we should become mothers, what jobs we should take or what our sexuality should look like, everyone's opinion seems to be valid except for the individual woman. And, to be quite honest, it really gets me down some days. I can be quite unkind to myself sometimes, echoing these sentiments of a diseased culture that tells women their natural bodies are an abomination, and that sort of self-talk does nothing but make me feel chained to my body, instead of comfortably settled in it.

When I need to snap myself back into a place of gratitude for the gift of a female physicality, I get into a pose of strength like the Warrior Pose followed by a position of submission like the Extended Puppy pose, repeating them and similar poses to be reminded of my own power and the collective power of all women to nurture and heal. I also do everything I can to support my feminine health throughout the month to make my Moon Cycle less unpleasant, mostly with tea like Woman's Energy and Raspberry Leaf from Yogi brand teas and dietary supplements like powdered cranberry to keep my urinary tract healthy and a garlic-based supplement to keep my natural flora in balance.

Two cups of raspberry leaf tea make my debilitating menstrual cramps completely disappear without nasty painkillers (thanks to my friend, Kacie, for suggesting it). I was skeptical, but it actually (miraculously) works. Also, drinking a cup of Woman's Energy, which is Yogi Tea's take on the ancient Dong Quai formula, every night throughout the month greatly reduces my PMS symptoms when its about that time. When all of my systems are running smoothly, it is certainly much easier to appreciate woman-hood.


When I'm feeling small and powerless against the patriarchy, I remember the stories and traditions of ancient goddesses like Kali, fierce Hindu goddess of time and worshiped by some as the redeemer of the universe, or Demeter, the ancient Greek goddess of growth, fertility and the changing seasons. In a society overwhelmed with images of male warriors and deities, it is comforting to remember the ancient belief in the feminine divine within all of us.

Today, I am most thankful for the women, both online and in my personal life, who I can turn to with my concerns and self-doubt. Without these wise women, I would be lost. I have been blessed with truly great female presences in my life.

*To my female readers, what makes you most thankful to be women?*

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quinoa: The Underappreciated Seed

Today, I am thankful for Quinoa (pronounced "keen-WAH"), the gluten-free wonder grain! Once you get the hang of pre-rinsing the couscous-like kernels, you will be surprised by this delicious, hearty, and versatile carb. Full of protein, fiber, iron and amino acids, it kicks the pants off wheat, in my opinion. Quinoa was considered sacred to the Inca, who called it "the mother of all grains," and I tend to agree with them. It is the seed of a plant in the beet family, not a grain in the traditional sense, and so is free of the gluten that causes bad reactions for so many. As a delightful introduction to my favorite grain, I would like to pass on a simple recipe for Quinoa Stew, which can also double as a satisfying gluten-free, vegan stuffing replacement. Before you begin, be sure to thoroughly rinse the Quinoa. I prefer to dump the grains in a saucepan, fill the pan part-way with water, swish the grains around with my hand, then carefully strain it with cheesecloth.

Quinoa Stew

1.5 cups Quinoa
2-3 Tbls. olive oil
2 large carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1.5 cups vegetable broth

In a medium saucepan, saute Quinoa with olive oil until the grains turn clearish. Add carrots, onion and broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer covered until all the liquid is soaked up. That's it! Experiment with other vegetables and spices to find the perfect version for you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Taking Care of Business

That's what the past month has been about; taking care of business. Sometimes a yogini just needs to unplug and hunker down with the domestics. In particular, I got married a few weeks ago and apparently when that happens, time enters a vortex. As we hurtle towards the holiday season and on to the new year, I am compelled to share my gratitude for all of the myriad blessings this life holds. So, for the next month and a half, all the way up through Christmas (because why stop at Thanksgiving?), I will list something or someone I feel grateful for each day.

Today, I am grateful for my husband, who is my rock in uncertainty, my levity when I am sad, and the most supportive partner I could ever hope for. He has the patience of a saint and is a source of unprecedented joy in my life. I am thankful for the opportunity I have been given to practice the yoga of grace on a moment-to-moment basis with someone who makes it so easy. He supports me in all that I do and he is a good friend above all else. How thankful I am to spend the rest of my life learning how to love him better. Life is very good!

Who or what are you most thankful for today?

Where I've Been!