Essential Oil Of The Week: Jatamansi

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This week’s essential oil, Jatamansi, has a rich history. Jatamansi oil is distilled from the roots of the perennial flowering plant of the same name that grows in the Alpine Himalayas. It has a sweet-woody scent, very earthy and damp. It reminds me a dank greenhouse. I personally think the fragrance is entrancing, but many people find it to be rather vile. It is in the same family as valerian, another fantastic herb for encouraging healthy sleep and calm nerves.

The name Jatamansi actually means “whose flesh is like a dread lock” because of the roots likeness to the matted locks of the ancient yogis and ascetics in the Himalayas. That’s pretty cool if you ask me.

Jatamansi has been used as both medicine and perfume for many thousands of years. Under the name “spikenard” it appears in the Bible as the type of oil that Mary Magdalene used to anoint Jesus’ feet.

It has a long history of use in Ayurvedic and Unani medicine, particularly for its incredibly balancing action on the doshas and powerfully rejuvenating effect on the mind.

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Essential Oil Of The Week: Peppermint

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Thad got me a very sleek aromatherapy diffuser for a Christmas present and using it is increasing my love for essential oils. It’s such a great way to experience the benefits of essential oils in a subtle and pleasing way. I’ve been trying out a new oil every few days, with the diffuser in my bedroom on for a few hours before I fall asleep.

Today I want to tell you about a common essential oil, peppermint. Although it might not sound very exotic, this is an excellent oil to keep in your arsenal, especially for nausea and other digestive issues.

Peppermint oil has such a refreshing and invigorating scent. It is best for diffusion and inhalation. Undiluted topical application is not recommended because in high concentrations menthol is an irritant. Definitely don’t put this one on your face, although a single drop in a bathtub is perfectly lovely and safe.

Carrying a bottle of peppermint essential oil when traveling is an excellent cure for all motion sickness, whether it’s car or boat etc., It is also recommended for pregnancy-related nausea and for easing stomach cramps. The scent is very calming for the digestive system, it relieves excess gas and bloating. Peppermint essential oil is routinely given in a low dosage for inhalation to chemotherapy patients to help prevent and ease nausea.

This ability to improve digestion is energetic as well, since peppermint oil facilitates the digestion of new ideas and the processing of emotions. It is very clarifying and consciousness-expanding. It inspires enthusiasm and can boost self-esteem and increase one’s motivation and interest in activities.

Peppermint oil offers relieve to those suffering from migraines and headaches. A drop rubbed on the temples is soothing and cooling and can also aid in concentration. Peppermint has analgesic properties and can help ease muscular stiffness and all sorts of bruising, aches, pains and swelling.

Using essential oils is safe, easy and effective, as well as a portable healing system excellent for folks on the go!

 

Love and Blessings,

Frances

 

 

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Resolutions – Why? Why Not?

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Well hello everyone, it’s a “new year.”

That means the vast majority of people have been making and breaking new year’s resolutions…to lose weight, eat less sugar, exercise more, be more financially responsible, be more organized, yada yada, you know the deal.

Some of these folks might actually follow through and succeed with these goals, but many will not. Perhaps they will feel really down on themselves for having “failed.” Maybe they will keep trying, or maybe simply toss the whole idea all together and resort back to old habits, hoping for better luck next year.

Personally, I’ve never made a big deal around new year’s eve or resolutions. In years past, I went to big concerts and would wake up the next day, hungover, ready for breakfast not powerful life changes. Even then, I hated the whole countdown-to-midnight-kiss thing. Too corny for my taste.

In recent years, I’ve fallen asleep long before midnight, enjoying the extra downtime with my sweetie before the holidays ended.

This year, as we were falling asleep I asked Thaddeus if he had any resolutions for the new year. He glibly responded in typical fashion something like, “new year’s resolutions are silly, there’s nothing that makes tomorrow “new” other than a man-made construction of a calendar and, in all honesty, I am quite content with my life and have very little I would like to change.” To which I responded, in typical fashion, “That’s nice, but don’t you have goals and hopes for your life? Aren’t there certain things you want to spend more time doing? How can you possibly not want to grow and change?”

So we chatted for a bit and both came up with a few goals and thoughts, although we never expressed these outright as “resolutions.”

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The Perfect Healthy Winter Snack

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Last week I shared with you my husband’s favorite seasonal sweet treat, and today I want to share with you mine.

Bruléed grapefruit: quick to make, chock-full of vitamin C and totally decadent despite its lack of calories or fat.

I was raised to enjoy a cold sugar-less grapefruit every morning in the wintertime. We always received big boxes full of them from my Florida grandparents. I still love the simplicity of the sweet and tart Ruby Reds eaten with serrated spoon. It’s one of the few cold things I can even think of eating this time of year. That said, when a friend introduced me a few years ago to the concept of broiling brown sugar on grapefruits, I was rather smitten.

Bruléed grapefruit is the perfect evening snack for me at the end of a long winter day. It’s sweet, warm and has got a little kick, but it’s not going to make me go to bed feeling yucky and full. Like most Ashtangis, I try to stick clear of eating a large meal in the evening before practice days, but sometimes I still get hungry once the sun goes down and I need a bit more sustenance after a full day on my feet at the flower shop.

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Essential Oil Of The Week: Silver Fir

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The fragrance of the holidays has overtaken the flower shops where I work. We are receiving evergreen bundles, garlands and wreaths every day. It is lovely and so very wintery. The resinous, heady and fresh scent of pines, balsams and fir boughs is invigorating and cheery.

This got me thinking about a favorite essential oil of mine: silver fir.

Silver fir essential oil encourages deep breathing and is healing for the entire respiratory system as well as supportive of the immune system. Because it is a strong oil that can be irritating to skin if used undiluted, it is best to use take benefit from this oil through inhalation. Simply placing a drop or two in the palms of your hands, rubbing them together and then holding in front of your nose for 3 or 4 deep full breaths is an easy way to appreciate the healing effects of this oil.

This is also an ideal oil to diffuse in your home. This allows the anti-viral, anti-septic and anti-microbial actions of silver fir to cleanse the air in your home – especially beneficial during cold/flu season. Plus it will make your house smell incredible.

It is a great decongestant because the scent can easily open the lungs, heal respiratory infections and bronchitis as well as clear excess phlegm and mucus. On a more subtle energetic level, this oil offers the sensation of more “breathing room.” It encourages inspiration and creativity.

Silver fir essential oil tonifies Qi and warms the interior. One single drop or two added to a warm bath is very soothing and clarifying as well as relaxing for muscular aches and arthritis.

This oil is distilled from the cut needles of the silver fir tree (Abies alba). It is important to get high-quality, hand-harvested silver fir oil because some conifer oils are contaminated with unwanted resins, petroleum byproducts and turpentine due to chain saws and other harvesting methods.

Happy December dear readers!

Love and Blessings,

Frances

 

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Yoga Is Dangerous

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Whenever William Broad of the NY Times writes a sensationalist article, the yoga blogosphere gets all in a tizzy.

I’ve never participated before because, well, I don’t really think it’s all that important.

I am well aware that yoga is dangerous, because being a human being is inherently dangerous.

I know that every morning that I get out of bed there is potential danger lurking, but being afraid of that is debilitating and will not serve me in the slightest.

Inhabiting a human body means that you will inevitably experience pain, trauma, disease, degeneration and death. There’s no escaping it.

Practicing asana is certainly no more dangerous that running, climbing, skiing, or stepping down off a curb to walk across a busy street.

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Essential Oil Of The Week: Lavender

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Lavender is one of those classic essential oils that anyone and everyone can use with great success. It is such a powerful and beautiful plant with a multitude of therapeutic benefits. The flowers themselves are lovely and very pleasing to the senses. Case in point, just look at those gorgeous rows! Makes me want to go to France right now.

You might think of lavender mostly for its calming and relaxing properties, but the effects of this essential oil go far beyond that. Because of its ability to treat a wide variety of physical, emotional and mental issues, it is often called the “mother of all essential oils.”

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Fifteen Fun Things To Do This Fall

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I love autumn. I find the change of seasons to be so invigorating.

Fall is such a great time to play outside. It passes all too quickly though, so I always try to make the most of this beautiful time of year.

Autumnal food tastes so satisfying and nourishing. Fall fashion is much more interesting than summer because of the opportunities for more texture and layering. And Halloween is pretty much the most awesome holiday ever. Caramel apples, fun costumes, ghost stories, what’s not to love?

So many reasons to relish this season…..

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Essential Oil Of The Week: Palo Santo

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Palo Santo is a sacred tree growing in Ecuador. For centuries and centuries, it has been worshipped by indigenous cultures for its purifying powers.

Today the Palo Santo tree is protected by the government so that no living trees or branches are allowed to be cut. All Palo Santo essential oils and incenses are made by gathering and distilling the resin within aged (a minimum of 2 years on the ground) limbs. When the tree dies, the resin inside the branches is driven into the heartwood where it matures, giving it a unique and powerful fragrance.

The aroma of this sacred tree’s oil has a fresh and citrusy scent with resinous musky wood notes. It is non-sensitizing and non-irritating and can safely be used by all.

This oil is recognized for its myriad of therapeutic properties, including anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumoral and anti-septic actions. It is beneficial for the respiratory system because of its decongesting and expectorant qualities and is generally supportive to the entire immune system.

It is regenerative for the skin and excellent for soothing all types of muscular/skeletal system inflammation.

Emotionally, this essential oil is uplifting, warming and cheerful while simultaneously offering a very grounded, calming base. It is soothing to the mind and comforting during times of emotional turbulence. Its usage smoothes the flow of chi and relaxes an unsettled spirit.

There is a natural intelligence within the plant itself that can align with prana and produce an expansive, upward-lifting energetic. This profound power is very spiritually enhancing and deserves great respect and proper ritual. The use of this essential oil will assist in creative endeavors, deep meditation and prayer.

Palo Santo essential oil can be diffused, applied topically or simply inhaled via the bottle or a few drops on palms, rubbed together to bring out the warmth in the fragrance.

Have you ever used this powerful oil therapeutically? What is your favorite way to incorporate the healing attributes of essential oils in your life?

 

Love and Blessings,

Frances

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Essential Oil Of The Week: Helichrysum

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Helichrysum is a powerfully healing plant that you don’t hear about that often, but probably should because it is so special.

I learned about it in massage school when I had a massive cut on my knee and asked my teacher what to do about potential scarring. Ever since then, I have used this oil regularly to heal wounds and bruises, improve complexion and reduce scarring. 

Helichrysum’s common name is “Everlasting.” It is tall yellow cluster of aromatic flowers that can grow in deprived soil and sunny harsh conditions where other plants can barely survive. Energetically, that feels very indicative of this plant’s fortitude and power. It is traditionally found in Europe, especially in the Eastern regions and in the Mediterranean.

The scent of helicrysum is spicy, warm and herbal. It’s quite a unique fragrance, hard to place unless you know what it is.

Therapeutically, the essential oil of the helichrysum flowers is safe for topical usage, even undiluted. It is very healing for skin conditions such as eczema, burns, acne, radiation burns, chronic dermatitis etc.,. It is analgesic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.  It reduces pain and can encourage the proper flow of chi and blood in the body. Topical usage is beneficial for bruise healing, broken capillaries and varicose veins. 

On the realm of the psyche and emotions, the use of this oil is most suited for moving through grief, bereavement and emotional trauma. Helicrysum can assist in healing old emotional scars, acute fear or anger and overcoming adversity. 

Energetically, helichrysum has the power to break through the deepest, most “stuck” negative feelings and can help restore feelings of compassion for others and for oneself. 

Keeping a bottle of this powerful essential oil handy to simply take a few long deep inhalations of during times of emotional stress is very soothing. I also keep a bottle of helichrysum hydrosol mist in my fridge for a cooling, skin-healing spritz now and again. 

Topically, a few drops of this oil can be applied directly on healing wounds or old scars. Another good way to benefit from the skin healing and anti-inflammatory properties of this plant is to put a few drops of this oil into a warm bath and soak it up.

Have you ever used this essential oil before? What are your favorite essential oils to work with?

 

Love and Blessings,

Frances

 

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Squash and Greens Vegan Casserole

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To be perfectly honest, casseroles do not make a regular appearance in my culinary repertoire. I was not raised eating many casseroles per se, but my dear Pennsylvania-born husband was and he is always happy to welcome one onto our dining room table.

This casserole is a creation of mine, inspired by other random vegan recipes I’ve perused on the interwebs. It’s creamy and slightly cheesy tasting because of the cashews and nutritional yeast. It’s quite filling too – very satisfying and nutritious. The sweetness provided by the butternut squash is quite lovely. I’m already excited for fall and all the deliciousness of squash, pumpkin and root vegetables.

This recipe is certainly up to your interpretation, particularly concerning the specific vegetables in it. I chose three different textured green veggies, but next time I make it, I think I will add some mushrooms as well.

I made this yesterday when I had some free time so that all I had to do for lunch today was pop it in the oven – easy peazy!

Give it a whirl and see what you think.

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