Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poetry that Inspires - what is it telling you? Listen with the ear of the heart.

I've recently been scrutinizing an emotion inside of me which has affected how I perceive the challenges I'm faced with at work - my day job - not teaching yoga, but advocating, educating, and providing organic produce to my community as a not-for-profit natural food cooperative's produce buyer. It doesn't pay much and it's part time, but I am devoted to supporting healthy lifestyles and being a part of the organic whole foods community which supports sustainability = shopping and eating local and organic (and in bulk) whenever possible. Since my days as a URI college student when I first began to make my own food purchases, I've been a working member of this cooperative; that's since the early 80's.

Granted, I am extremely grateful to have a job, but what a drag, when I feel a lack of respect among a few of the people I work with. I must not be respecting myself, for this to be occurring. So I ponder... why don't I utilize more of my skills and practice my yoga off the mat... why do I work with heart, yet feel that my heart is squandered there? After all, I am the captain of my own Soul.

I recently watched the movie Invictus starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. The film tackles the challenges that faced South Africa in 1995, when newly elected President Mandela had the enormous task of inspiring a nation to forget their past (which was irrevocably stained by aparthaid's violent hatreds and isolationism), and to instead let go of revenge and forgive the oppressiveness befelled by their fellow countrymen. President Mandela from his first days in office looked forward with pride knowing that this nation of individuals, blacks and whites, could become united under one flag, one national anthem, and one encouragable Rugby team; a team which with President Mendala's encouragement represented the country's will to change, and determination to excell beyond expectations.

I think of how minor my challenges are compared to what the South African people faced. The poem that inspired President Mandela to persevere while in prison for over 27 years, also inspired the South African Springbok Rugby team captain to accept the possible; that poem, Invictus, has been presented to me as well via the film and oddly coincidentily in a piece on NPR today.

In every circumstance we must recognize that are own thoughts, words and actions can change our perceptions and our realities. I know that when I gracefully align my life with my highest aspirations for myself, and with the grace of universal goodness that flows within me and throughout, then I can live a life more worthy of what my spirit and soul has to offer. It's up to me to feel better at work, and no one else's actions can change that. It's up to me to respectfully grow beyond what is seemingly bringing me down, because ultimately it is my own misgivings and perceptions of what ails me, that only I can accept and then let go of. Only I can change my story and create the life I want to lead.

Nelson Mendala's spirit was continually uplifted when he recited to himself this old English poem, Invictus, written in 1875 by English poet, William Ernest Henley. Read the poem yourself, just as the captain of the South African Rugby Team did when his President shared it with him. Let the ear in your chest speak to your soul and renew your courage and spirit to go beyond who you are today, with more acceptance and willingness to grow.

Invictus Poem

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus Poem by William Ernest Henley.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

KICK YOUR BOOTS OFF YOGA - Next Session: April 10th "Live in the Soul, and Dance with Shri!"

Big Thank YOU to my many dedicated students who made February and March's KICK YOUR BOOTS OFF YOGA workshops so much fun and full of shri!
PHOTO is of a SUNDAY morning Rebecca Yoga Class in the beautiful River Bend Athletic Club Yoga Studio, winter 2011.

I know it's not easy to give your Sunday afternoons to a few extra hours indoors when family is wanting us around and/or we're wanting family around, or we're just plain needing down time, so it is that I again thank those of you who were and are able to come out to free your toes by kicking your boots off and deepening your yoga practice (some even after practicing that morning with me). And for those of you who are curious we have the third workshop coming up on Sunday, April 10th, same time 11:20-2 pm.

Having a more intimate group and being able to first share tea, soup, salad and discussion is what I most enjoy(ed) about the sessions. Going deeper into Anusara Yoga's Universal Principles of Alignment(tm) with each pose, and working with partners at the wall and with props it is easy to see how the principles become more deeply understood with a full mind, body and spirit awareness, And with the unfolding of your graceful, 'inner body brightness' in each asana.

Anusara Yoga's Universal Principles of Alignement(tm)(UPA'S): Opening to grace, Muscular Energy, Inner and Outer Spiral and Organic Energy help us bring our poses to life! A fuller brightness from the inside out is an expression of your hearts and this is what I saw in each of you.

In the third KYBO yoga workshop we'll continue to work on our practice with meditation, pranayama and whole body awareness, with a special focus on Inner and Outer Spiral to refine are alignment. An alignment that safely and effectively can free up poor posture and brighten any shrinking self esteem. This practice with the UPA's can bring you places you've only dreamed to get to on and off the mat.

Bakasana, crow pose, if once seemingly difficult, can become your most exuberant pose. I've seen some of you express A steady upward and downward facing tree pose and full on, straight armed, and open hearted backbend after never feeling you'd get there. When you use the UPA's, and you feel the pride and joy of a full expression of your heart in the poses, your beams brighten the room. That's Anusara yoga.

This next workshop is called, "LIVE IN THE SOUL, and DANCE with SHRI!" I'm excited to talk more about cleansing the body and to introduce you to pressed wheat grass juice and more delicious spring greens to help bring out your true vital force.

Please take a look at the SHRI ME SPRING CLEANSE below to follow through the next few weeks or to perhaps review and bring questions to the table during the next KYBOYoga Workshop. Cleansing is best to do when the weather is in the 60s, your immunity is up and you can take the time to pause, reflect and release what both emotionally and physically you may be holding inside. Sometimes our work and family life is hard to manage when we are in the midst of an internal cleanse, so having the support of your yoga teacher can be key. Go lightly with yourself and don't fret if it's just not in the cards.

APRIL 10th - SHRI ME! Live in the Soul and Dance with Shri!

Remembering that ‘All we wish to be is already within us’ we’ll practice leading with the breath into the fullness of our potential, inwardly and outwardly spirally in hip openers & gentle to full back bends such as Dhanurasana (bow pose); Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (one legged king pigeon pose) and Natarajasana I & II (standing king dancer pose). A spring green salad, and fruit & nut snack will be offered to fill you with life’s vital energy, aka SHRI !

QUESTION: If anyone knows the name of this beautiful tree in Narragansett please let me know. ANd please feel free to comment below if you'd like. Namaste! Rebecca

Shri Me Spring Cleanse - Freedom & Vitality

Sometimes we need to still the water to see life more clearly. We need to clean out our internal physical system to make more room for spring's fresh new growth, and to make more clear and free up our heart's true intentions toward living. Take time this spring to honor what your body is telling you naturally to do, after a winter of eating heavier foods, like all of nature it wants to be renewed; refresh and feel freedom. Clear your system with cleansing foods and liquids and bring more vitality into your life. Here's my annual Shri Me Spring Cleanse to guide your way.

7-8 Day Program
3-day lead in, 1-2 day fast, 3-day transition off

Shri (shree) – full of vitality, and the essence of spring!

A safe and effective path to a cleaner, clearer, healthier you!
TO DO everyday of program (and of your life!):
1.) Eat organic!
You’re cleansing, ridding your body of toxins, so don’t add pesticides, herbicides and other unhealthy processes to your body.

2.) Drink fluids!
First thing in the morning, before lunch, dinner and bedtime:
Drink four 8oz glasses of water daily, some with lemon, all with no ice!

Can be in hot water, or in part in a cleansing tea like:
Traditional Medicinal or Yogi Tea formulas in tea bags, like
Cranberry-weightless, De-Tox, or Dandelion Root blends.

3.) Get plenty of rest, fresh air, exercise & time for reflection… Exercise is great for the body, mind & spirit, but be mindful you don’t overdue it while cutting down on calories (which fuel the body). Be sure to make time for silence. Stillness keeps us in tune with our intuition. Deep rest restores us, body & soul.

4.) Set an intention every day… be open to Grace and possibility.
It’s important to begin where you are, with acceptance, and not put off being well for some later date.
Life’s a daily practice in remembering who we truly are.

If you sometimes forget your divine goodness, and feel agitated, anxious, or self-sabotaging (with impulsive eating or over reactivity) sip calming herb tea blends with passionflower, chamomile, skullcap, St. John’s wort or kava.

Yogi Tea’s Kava, Stress Relief is my fave! Kava is also a gentle, cleansing diuretic. Milk Thistle seed (Silymarin), regenerates liver tissue and can be ground and sprinkled on food, or taken as tea or extract. Read all labels, and take as directed any medicinal herbal supplements/teas. If you have a chronic liver condition or frequently drink alcoholic beverages, ask your physician before starting a cleanse, taking supplements or drinking detox teas.

DAY 1 & 7:
I. Enjoy bitter, leafy greens in salads or steamed dishes (w/ little or no oils or dressings, a pinch of sea-salt is ok)
Whole grain rice, quinoa & vegetarian or bean soups are good, as are pale, low sugar, fresh (not dried) fruits/juices.

MEAL IDEA: Start the day with lemon water and a bowl of gluten-free complex carb (quinoa, amaranth, &/or brown rice) and have a lunch and dinner of steamed vegetables, and detox, herb tea. This helps push out toxins, and eliminates any foods you might be allergic to (wheat, dairy…)

II. Eliminate all dairy, meat, nuts and processed or whole grain breads, pastries and other sugary carbs (most fruits & fruit juices, cookies, chips and candies). Eliminate all grains on days 3-5.

Organic leafy lettuces and bitter greens, arugula, chard, chicory, collards, celery, dandelion greens, kale, parsley, spinach & wheat grass are all excellent during first and last days of a cleanse.
Organic avocados and low-sugar, high enzyme, pale fruits such as pears, pineapples, grapefruits and kiwis are easy to digest and good to eat on the first and last days of a cleanse (as whole, fresh fruit, not dried).

Note: The deep blue, purple, red, orange and bright yellow fruits (like bananas) are very sweet and can zing you out while cleansing, even though they are high in Vitamins A, C and other great antioxidants (the blues, reds & purples especially=proanthocyanadins and flavonoids). Bring them back gradually after the cleanse. Remember, eating organic, seasonal, local (when possible) fruits and vegetables is worth every penny, for your health, the environment and the local & global economies.

DAY 2 & 6:

I. Enjoy two (am and afternoon) organic, green juices. OR one or two 1 oz shots of wheat grass and/or 6oz carrot juices with added greens, beets & ginger, or eat lightly steamed, al-dente carrots & small amount of beets. Or begin the “Master Cleanse” drink, see recipe below.

II. Sip and savor warm veggie soup broths, detox teas and lemon water. (Rapunzel Vegan Veggie Bouillon, $3.29/16 serv.)

MEAL IDEA: keep it simple, mainly liquid & easy

FRESH, ORGANIC GREEN JUICE OR CARROT JUICE BLENDS: (at home, or in town @Alternative Food Coop, 357 Main St.)
Green juice with kale, apple and celery = good in evening, very calming.
Green juice with kale, arugula, citrus, radish, ginger and parsley = good during day.
Note: Vegetable juicing stimulates digestion and circulation (especially with ginger) and nutrients are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Note, beets turn everything red and can be overpowering, but are so very good for you. I like to juice them separately, after the green juice, and top off my drinks with a swirl of red.

HOT VEGAN SOUPS: try one of the Coop’s 3 delicious vegan (no animal ingredient) soups, like Thai Tofu (soy) Stew (every Monday) or Carrot Ginger Soup. $3.99 eat in/$4.99 to go. 789-2240

*Odwalla, and other store bought juices, are often too sweet, but if the only way you will comply, go for it! Odwalla’s Superfood with Spriulina is best, if cannot make fresh juice.
*Carrots are naturally sweet, so watch your blood sugar. Add wheat grass, parsley, kale, lemon and ginger to balance out the sweetness.
*Raw (un-juiced) veggies have a fibrous cell wall that needs to be broken down before digestion, so that the assimilation of nutrients is possible, hence the benefit of juicing or lightly steaming before savoring. And chew well, as the "Juiceman" used to say, "Drink your food."
* Red apples are too sweet on a spring cleanse (they’re more suitable in the fall),
although adding a half of small apple, per 12 oz fresh green juice or carrot juice is common, nutritious and delicious. Bananas are also very sweet, if adding to a non-frozen, fruit smoothie, be sure to include a veggie protein supplement, such as soy or spirulina to balance out the carb rush.

III. Eliminate coffee & chocolate (caffeine) consumption, gradually, if need be. Withdrawal Headache First Aid:
Sip ginger tea & massage peppermint oil into your temples!

NOTE: You can substitute coffee with Cafix or Teechino, yummy coffee like sensations, or with an earthy dandelion root tea. Wheat grass shots give boosts of energy and make you feel so green, a dark drink seems unpalatable. Drink detox tea blends, or veggie soup broths, and add the Master Cleanse formula on days 3-5, in place of your coffee time fix.

DAY 3 & 5:

I. Enjoy any combination of cleansing fluids such as the Master Cleanse, lemon water, herbal (detox & calming) teas, light veggie juices (no beets), wheat grass, or clear soup broths. An all MC fast is optional.

II. Eliminate all processed foods, sweets (no fruits, accept lemons), animal foods (meat, milk, eggs, cheeses), nuts, grains and caffeine.


Master Cleanse
from Dr. Elson Haas, author of Eat Right for the Seasons, and The New Detox Diet

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon (or lime) juice
1-tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/10-teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 ounces spring water

Mix and drink 8 - 12 glasses throughout the day. Eat or drink nothing else except water, laxative/detox herb tea, and peppermint or chamomile tea (for tummy health). Keep the mixture in a glass container, or make it fresh each time.

*Note: Rinse your mouth with water after each glass to prevent the lemon juice from hurting your teeth enamel.


I. Enjoy Master Cleanse, &/or clear fluids only - no fruit or veggie juices, accept wheat grass, and, if desired, you can add
one ounce shots of immune boasting, lymphatic draining herbs, Black Elderberry or Echinacea angostifolia (up to 4x/day).*

II. ADD shot(s) of Black Elderberry herbal extract if want to stimulate lymphatic drainage, especially if you have an imbalance of flora, (aka, an excessive nonbeneficial yeast growth of Candida albacans) or if you have chronic or acute cases of eczema, acne or swollen glands. This herb safely moves lymph, so toxins will move into the blood stream, and out of the body with ease and speed. (Herb Pharm Black Elderberry 1 0z )

II. ELIMINATE all of the same foods as in day 3, plus veggie juices and soups, accept clear broths. Eliminate any vitamin or mineral supplements in tablet or capsule forms. It is up to you how many days to liquid fast, 1-3.

III. VERY IMPORTANT – After fasting:
Take a Pro-Biotic supplement (preferably a high strain acidophilus, with FOS); try to get at least 12 billion strains of mixed flora. Pro-biotics restore your colon with the beneficial flora (good bacteria) that you may have flushed out of your system during cleansing (along with the bad bacteria).

BONUS: You can stimulate circulation and the removal of dead skin cells with a no water, pre-shower scrub down. Using a loofa brush start at your chest and scrub out to the peripheral, moving from the heart to hands and feet; end your shower with cold water.

1. Due to the huge quantity of today’s environmental contaminants, regular cleansing is vital to maximize the body’s energy and to prevent chronic illness.
2. During the winter we tend to eat a more acidic, high protein diet, which can cause the intestines to secrete a heavy mucous coating, decreasing the absorbtion rate of nutrients. Too much acidic food also causes the intestines to harbor harmful bacteria, toxins.
These two problems can lead to constipation and autointoxication, causing the intestines to re-absorb toxic materials back into the blood stream. A seasonal cleanse helps clean the colon and the hold toxins have on your life.

“Healing may not be so much about getting better as about letting go of everything that isn’t you—all of the expectations, all of the beliefs—and becoming who you are. Not a better you, but a realer you.”

—Rachael Naomi Remen, M.D., The Human Patient (Anchor Books, 1980)

When we clean the physical body in a slow, meditative fashion, we simultaneously wash away negative thoughts and emotions. While engaging in the above detoxification techniques, think about the significance of a clean body, mind and soul as a way to better understand your true self and achieve greater success in your physical, emotional and spiritual life.

If you have comments, questions or just need some inspiration to stay on task and get through this cleanse, feel free to call, email or visit me. It helps to know you are supported in this effort to revitalize your life. It’s time to live with Shri- the essence of spring, full of vitality!

Rebecca J. Briggs, RYT, CN
Yoga teacher, Natural Health Educator, Herbalist, Thai massage therapist
Call: 401-533-0116
Visit me while at work:
@ the Alternative Food Coop 341 Main St. Wakefield
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays 9:30-3pm 789-2240