yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Less Daylight, More Insight

After a long hiatus, I'm back on "Peace and Health." A number of you were wondering why I hadn't been writing my posts and the answer is that I have been living and thinking and experiencing and that is what it takes sometimes to be thoughtful in my communications. I don't want to blather away or preach. I want to share what is perhaps of value in making the world a teensy bit more friendly.

Today is the first evening of Eastern Standard Time and we now have the spectre of sunset at 4:30 and those long, cold winter nights ahead for a very long time. Boring? Sometimes. Crabby feelings from lack of vitamin D? Absolutely.

Here is what I have learned and applied from traditional Chinese medicine: We are all familiar with the concept of yin and yang, the opposites, in Chinese philosophy. The fall and winter are the yin time of the year, the feminine, introverted, quiet, the days short, animals hibernating and the earth going into its roots to survive the cold season ahead, everything in a state of near death. I have been putting away my summer clothes, as I'm sure many of you have been as well, but also my diet has been changing to include more seasonal foods like acorn and butternut squash, soups and other hot cooked food like breakfast grains. I have closed up my garden, brought potted plants indoors, and have accepted the fact that I will be less active for now, slowing down my social schedule and gym workouts. I have learned that I get sick, get headaches, feel edgy when I try to do too much. Deciding what is "too much" is what is most important.

My doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, who introduced this yin-yang season concept to me, says it causes illness and dysfunction when we live contrary to nature. In the fall and winter we need to be quiet, go inward, not rush around and not get enough rest. We need balance. In the spring and summer, it's the yang time of year, masculine, extroverted, expansive. Lazing around indoors in the summer is going against nature as it's the time to be outside and active.

So, it's okay to be sleepy and sluggish right now! It's okay to enjoy the long evenings in your sweats with your dog or cat on your lap, reading and sipping tea or enjoying a pleasant conversation in the comfort of home. It's okay not to drag yourself around after a long day of work. Go home and flop on the sofa and take it easy. Spend long moments thinking, writing, reading, listening to music. Insights abound at this time of year. Fatten up for the winter like the squirrels do. It's good to go with the season! Give yourself permission to simply be this fall and winter. It's only natural.

Here's a recipe I want to share, one I tore out of Yoga Journal recently. It's wonderful, simple to bake, and I hope you all will try it. Let me know what you think! Happy autumn. Let's all enjoy it and make the very best of it.

Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil a 10-inch loaf pan and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer (or whisk by hand) for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is very foamy and pale in color. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Gently fold in the rosemary.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Pour the batter into the pan.
4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool briefly in the pan, and then tip the cake out onto a rack to continue cooling.

I serve this cake warmed and sliced with a generous dollop of goat cheese with honey (they sell this at Trader Joe's) on top! Yum!

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