farmers marketThe fall is a wonderful time of year to visit the farmers markets with the rich harvest of pumpkins, squash, apples, leafy greens, brussel sprouts and much much more. Whenever we speak of the benefits of our local farmers markets we hear comments such as; “they create a stronger economy,” or “They decrease our environmental impact,” which are both very important, but what about the benefits to our health? Could shopping at a farmers market actually be healthy for us? Absolutely!

Time spent outdoors in nature
The very act of walking in the market and breathing the fresh air has amazing health benefits in itself. Spending time in a natural setting has been well documented to improve immunity, decrease anxiety and stress and lower blood pressure while increasing energy. More time outdoors also means more time soaking up precious Vitamin D from the sun, which often gets depleted over the long winter months.

Fresh nutrient dense foods
Buying local from a farmers market usually means produce has been vine ripened and harvested within the last one to two days. This results in higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and natural sugars creating healthier and more flavourful food. Ever wonder why strawberries purchased from the grocery store in January just do not taste quite right? Produce may lose up to 45% of its nutrients within 48 hours of picking. Imagine what that could mean for grocery store fruits and veggies, which potentially spend several days to weeks in transit, storage, plus even more time sitting on the shelves of the store.

Eating with the seasons
Do you notice how most of us crave warm hearty stews in November and fresh raw salads or berries in August? Nature is brilliant; it gives us exactly what our bodies need when we need it. Winter is a time for nourishment and warmth with rooted vegetables and winter squashes while summer provides us with cool, cleansing greens like spinach, parsley and dandelion leaves. Ecologists consider the changing of seasons essential for re-balancing the earth’s resources, as a Nutritionist I believe their importance is to synchronize the food which is necessary to balance our own body’s resources and nutrient levels.

Whole foods
The tempting aisles of chips, pop and cookies will seem miles away as you stroll farmers market stands heaped with nutrient rich items like; leafy greens, carrots, peppers and mushrooms all while taking in the scent of fresh herbs and fruit. Shopping at farmers markets allow us to effortlessly fill our fridge full of nutritious whole foods leaving little room for depleting processed ones. Even the breads, baked goods and fruit preserves found at the markets are made with whole real foods void of most additives, artificial flavours and colours.

Community Support
I often describe the Vancouver farmers markets as small towns nestled within our big city. It’s a place where one may build strong relationships with local farmers, fishers and fellow market shoppers. Several studies have found a correlation between a sense of community belonging with physical and mental health. Perceived community support seems to lower stress and anxiety levels, increase self-worth, improve overall mental health and even decrease instances of chronic disease. Looking for the next health trend? Try shopping at your local farmer’s market! It is more than just a place to shop; it’s a direct way to invest in your community, your earth and of course your health! For more information on farmers markets… http://www.farmersmarketscanada.ca/ http://www.eatlocal.org/

This Week’s Focus – Karma

karmic-horacio-cardozoThis week our classes at our Vancouver and Toronto locations will be themed around the spiritual law of karma or cause and effect. The law of karma states that there are an infinite amount of choices available to us in each moment. Some of our choices are made consciously but many are unconscious. It also states that everything happening to us right now is a result of the choices we’ve made in the past. This can be difficult to accept but when we take responsibility for the choices we’ve made in the past, we are empowered to make new, conscious choices. Deepak states that most of us have become “bundles of conditioned reflexes that are constantly being triggered by people and circumstances into predictable outcomes of behavior.”, e.g. somebody says something nice and we unconsciously make the choice to be flattered, someone says something negative and we unconsciously choose to be upset. We could choose to be unaffected by a compliment or an insult. If we witness our choices, we move them from the unconscious realm to the conscious.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, used to say “For every question, listen to your body for the answer”. When we make a choice, we experience a sensation in our body and it is usually in the area of the solar plexus or heart. Our heart is intuitive, pure and unaffected by ego. You can probably go back to a situation in your life where you dismissed your gut feeling and let your mind rationalize a situation only to realize that you should’ve listened to your intuition.

We can always learn something new on the mat if we are present with the practice. While practicing, notice the sensations in your body and ask yourself, e.g “How does my lower back feel during the vinyasas, where is my weight distributed during balance postures, am I breathing, etc.”

The law of karma resonates with the root chakra of stability and governs our basic needs. Make sure to get enough rest, exercise and nourishment and you will naturally make choices that are nourishing for yourself and those around you. Have a beautiful week!

hugs,
danielle mika

Commitment by Vivien Hsiung

commitment

How can one word create so many mixed feelings? For some of us, hearing the word commitment creates a sense of impending doom and the metaphorical shackles rattle as they chain us to an imaginary weight. Is it because the word commitment foreshadows hard work, time, and patience? When we commit to something we become invested. We decide to opt into a “contract” that requires our dedication, self-motivation and intention to complete the task on hand.

In our adult lives we engage in many commitments. Relationships, careers, mortgages, education, etc. But how often have you decided to commit to the most important thing?

Yourself.

Often my patients will say.. “I am too busy to exercise”..”Changing my diet is too hard”.. “I meant to do that this week but..”

Albert Einstein once said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”

One of the reasons we are apprehensive about starting something new after we take away all of the excuses is perhaps the fear of failing. In JK Rowling’s convocation speech to a Harvard graduating class she coined the phrase “the fringe benefits of failure”. (An incredibly inspiring TED talk that you can watch here)

Rowling’s take-home message was that people who stagnate because of fear of failure-ironically ensure failure by default. Meanwhile those who try and fail are further ahead because of the lessons that inevitably come with failure.

So to celebrate the coming of Spring, why not take part in the Chinese Medicine cycle of Rebirth and Renewal. This is a great time to support the Liver. The liver loves routine and exercise above all things and Spring is the best time to implement new habits such as implementing new eating regimens. Let us dust off those New Years Resolutions that may have fallen by the wayside and commit to yourself.

Here are some tips on how to create a daily routine that allows you to commit time to yourself.

1. Can’t teach a dog new tricks?

Habits are hard to break. I admit that and so does every single motivational speaker and writer on the topic of success and efficiency. Success comes from self-reliance, motivation and, you guessed it, commitment. In the spirit of spring cleaning, you need to clear away the old habits that are weighing you down to make way for the new. If you can do this for your house, why can’t you do this for your mind and body? When we think of habits, we think of “bad habits”. But we can reframe that in a positive light by starting to create new and good habits such as making it a habit to exercise in the morning or making dinner one of the lighter meals you have each day. Traditional Chinese Medicine states that energy flows from one organ to the next at each hour of the day. Creating habits around a routine allows for your body to prepare for each activity in that routine.

2. Reach for Attainable Goals

A mistake that everyone –and I mean everyone (myself included) –makes is setting incredibly lofty goals without a good plan to get there. Fail to plan, plan to Fail. These goals may seem unattainable when we do not lay the groundwork. The way I like to tackle any task is to start with a RIGID framework. For example write down the 2-3 things that I have to do each day then build the rest of my day around those non-negotiables.

Organization is key!

(If you are looking for a way to organize your daily task I like this bullet system.)

3. Make an Appointment with Yourself

When life gets busy the time we schedule to go for a run, go to the gym or prepare healthy meals is usually the first thing to fall to the wayside. Would you just decide to not show to a meeting with the boss? Would you simply ignore your 10am root canal? Of course you wouldn’t. These are important appointments that you must keep. So are the appointments you make with yourself. Book workouts/meditation/yoga into your schedule like you would any other meeting or appointment: And don’t break them! Non-negotiable.

Making time for yourself and being accountable to oneself is one of the healthiest decisions you can make for you and those around you. When you take care of your needs first you become more sympathetic to the needs of others. This is a valuable attribute to have in all relationships, whether they be work-related or personal.

Commitment takes hard work, patience and dedication. You need the framework to build new habits for yourself and you need the plan to get yourself there. Cast away fear of failure and commit to unwavering progress. Eventually and undoubtedly you will attain any goal you are reaching for.