Vasisthasana Variations, Build Your Foundation

 

full version, Yoga Acores, Tiffany Gore, Yogini Tiff, Azores, Diana Melo Photography

Vasisthasana-Full version of Side Plank

Challenging and beautiful, this is a pose that requires strength, concentration, and flexibility.  There are many variations to this pose. Start slow.  Build your foundation.

My sweetheart built the little cottage we live in and I can assure you he built the foundation first. We cannot start building a home at the roof, first we have to build and stabilize the foundation, get the proper support beams, and only when everything else is in place, can we safely put on the roof.

Similarly in Yoga, it is very important to build a foundation, strengthen your body, understand proper alignment, and proper breathing.  Only then should we attempt to move into the more advanced poses and variations of poses.

Always be sure to listen and feel what it right for your body. Yoga is not a competition. Yoga is union. If we are challenging our body to the point where we are risking injury, we are not practicing Ahimsa which is one of the foundations of yoga. Ahimsa is the practice of nonviolence, non-harming, non-injury. This definitely includes ourselves, our bodies, our spirits, our asana practice.

There are times when my arms are fatigued, my core feels weak, my energy is low, and I choose to do a more gentle variation of Side Plank. Known as Supported Side Plank.

supported side plank,a variation build foundation, yogini tiff yoga, diana melo photography

Supported Side Plank 

The Bottom knee is down, hips are aligned, shoulders aligned, core engaged. This is still a challenging pose with many benefits. Strengthens the core, the arms, the shoulders, the wrists, and requires a great deal of focus.

Then there is another, more challenging variation of the pose. Wait until you are comfortable in supported side plank before attempting this variation. ***Do not attempt if you have wrist or shoulder injury***

side plank azores, tiffany gore yoga

Side Plank: Feet Stacked

Feet are stacked, hips are stacked, shoulders are stacked. Another variation is to have one foot slightly in front of the other. Make sure your foundation is solid before attempting this pose. It requires proper alignment, core, shoulder, wrist and arm strength, and a tremendous amount of balance and focus in order to safely perform this asana (pose).

Moving to the full version of the pose, is very challenging on the body. Don’t rush it. Allow your yoga practice to evolve naturally. Your body and spirit will thank you.

Thank you for reading.

Whatever ‘side’ you wake up on, hope you have good day. ~Tiff

 

Photos by Diana Melo

 

Watercress Potato and Rice Soup

When I open my kitchen window I hear the sounds of a small river. A small beautiful winding river that passes in front of my house. And this time of year the river is full of a lovely green plant known as watercress. Some consider watercress an herb, others say it is an aquatic vegetable. Well, whatever it is, it is packed with nutrition and it tastes good. I find it similar in taste to arugula. It has a little kick of spice.

Watercress Potato and Rice Soup/With fresh Portuguese Bread

Watercress Potato and Rice Soup/With fresh Portuguese Bread

We explored the river a few days ago  in search of watercress. I slipped on a rock and fell in, but luckily it was a warm day and the water wasn’t too cold. It woke me up, made me laugh, and left me with a few small cuts and a little bruise.

Watercress growing in the River

Watercress growing in the river

Having an abundance of watercress I decided to experiment and make watercress potato and rice soup. It was DELICIOUS.

Fresh Harvested Watercress/In Portuguese known as Agrião

Fresh Harvested Watercress/In Portuguese known as Agrião

 

The Recipe:

A large bunch of fresh Watercress (5 cups or more)

5 medium-sized potatoes

1 large onion

1/4 brown rice (dry)

4 cloves of garlic

1 red pepper

1 teaspoon of black pepper

2 teaspoons sea salt (or salt to taste)

1 tablespoon butter

Combine all ingredients in a large pot of water.

Bring to boil and then bring to a lower heat.

Cook for 1 hour.

Hearty, nutritious, delicious. I suggest eating it with fresh bread.

Watercress Potato and Rice Soup.

Our Green Valley: The River Runs through It

Our Green Valley: The River Runs through It

Let food be thy medicine.-Hippocrates

Give thanks to the Green World that Sustains us. EARTH DAY EVERYDAY.

~Yogini Tiff

Cultivating Mudita: Sympathetic Joy

We have all felt it. Envy. Even jealousy. Someone we know is experiencing good fortune, a lucky break, an exotic vacation, an inheritance, the leading role in a play, a photo in a magazine. We smile, congratulate them, but it is with mixed emotions. Deep down there is that question ofWhy couldn’t it have been me?” 

Sometimes that feeling festers and grows, resentment builds, and with it comes anger, hostility, and sometimes a desire to see that person’s good fortune crumble. Sitting with the emotions of anger and jealousy is very painful. So is being on the receiving end. Those toxic feelings, are a form of energy, that seeps out as we go about our daily lives. Infecting those around us and causing more negative thinking.   It is a nasty cycle.

Well fear not! There is a solution!  We can transform those awful feelings by cultivating ‘Mudita.’

Mudita is a state of sympathetic joy in the happiness and success of others. It is one of the four sublime states in Buddhism. Sympathetic joy is an unselfish positive mental attitude which is beneficial for all.  

JOY! YEAH!

We cultivate Mudita during yoga. Yoga, the union of the body, mind, and spirit. When one really experiences a state of Yoga, a higher wisdom, a higher consciousness emerges.  A deep understanding that all things connect. The illusion of separation dissolves and we find Joy in the oneness.

Shine

Shine

When one experiences Mudita, it really is amazing and joy-full.

Take some time to tune in, quiet the “monkey mind” and cultivate Mudita. It can be a walk in the forest, an Asana practice (I think of my yoga practice as my soul shower, washing off the muck), a meditation, a swim, surfing,  dancing, or even a long  hug.

More compassion. More love.

More REAL Joy.  ~Yogini Tiff

 

Warrior II-Virabhadrasana II

Grounded, Stable, Balanced, Strong- The Energy Of Warrior II

Grounded, Stable, Balanced, Strong- The Energy Of Warrior II

Warrior II connects us to our inner strength, builds confidence, tones the entire body, helps restore energy reserves,  and boosts the mood.

When you need some warrior like strength, Warrior II is a great pose to do. Breathe it in.

Blessings~Yogini Tiff

The Sweetest Story

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to work with a Portuguese beekeeper here on the island of Santa Maria in the Azores. He comes from a very long line of beekeepers, and he got his first sting when he was very young. His initiation.

I really enjoy working with bees, learning about bees.  Harvesting honey. Eating honey. Drinking honey.

Well we didn’t harvest honey, that will be in August. No, we just checked on all the hives to make sure the bees were doing ok. Most of the hives were doing well. There was a lot of honey. And a lot of bees.

One beehive alone has an average of 50,000-60,000 bees.  Well my Portuguese beekeeper friend has 17 hives in his backyard. 17 beehives is seriously millions of bees!! (and this is not counting the young bee colonies in the ceramic cylinders) The buzzing produced by that many bees is intense.

Smoking the hives

Smoking the hives

My sweetheart and my 5 month old daughter Luna stayed away from the field and hung out in a large garden. Joao got close enough to take a few photos of us at work, but most of the time, he and Luna hung out under some banana trees, far away from the the buzzing of the bee yard.

CIMG7162

 

Honey Bees, Abelhas

Some of the Beehives

When we were done checking all the hives, we walked back to the shed, and learned that little Luna had been stung on the back of the head. Apparently she barely cried. But I know bee stings really HURT! My little girl is very tough. Out of all of us, she was the only one who got stung. I felt really bad. I would have preferred it if  Joao got stung! (Haha).  Anyways, our beekeeper friend went to the garden and brought back  a handful of parsley. He wrinkled it up and put it on the back of Luna’s head. He said this would help the sting and prevent it from swelling. It worked. There is barely a mark. Perhaps she has been initiated. But next time I work with bees, she will stay home. She can start beekeeping when she is a little older. Like 5 years old. ;)

My beekeeper friend gave us a very large jar of honey, some tomato plants, and told us the craziest story I have ever heard. About a pigeon and a cat.

The Pigeon and the Cat, Soulmates

The Pigeon and the Cat, Soulmates

There is a wild pigeon that showed up at the beekeepers house a few years ago and has become best friends with his cat. They play together, eat together, sleep together, and are very much in love. We caught them having dinner.

Isn’t that the sweetest story?

With lots of honey~Tiff

 

 

The Azores: Paradise for The Herbalist, Stinging Nettle Harvest Time

I am always looking for natural ways to heal. I have taken one of Susun Weeds online herbalist courses, I have books, herbalist friends,and a love for natural magic, I know the basics.  I know how to dry herbs, make tinctures and infusions, and I can identify and safely harvest some of my favorite herbs in the wild.  But I am in no way an expert, I am learning everyday.

The Azores seem to have more herbs than anywhere I have ever lived.

There is a little old lady in our village who noticed me looking at her lavender the other day, she slowly hobbled outside and in Portuguese she told me how “lavender can cure things that the hospitals cannot”. She then offered to give me some lavender and rosemary.. But she said in her crackly crone voice. ” You have to come back, because you need to plant the lavender three days before the new moon.Come back when the moon is nearly dark”  I will go back. Lavender is my favorite herb. Favorite smell, favorite tea, maybe even my favorite plant. Practical and magical wisdom: Things they don’t teach in school. 

I do have lavender growing in my herb garden. It is beginning to flower. It brings me so much joy. But this isn’t a post about lavender. In fact, maybe this post is just me rambling about herbs. Herbs. Santa Maria has so many. Growing wild everywhere. We go hiking and I see Mint, Stinging Nettle, Milk Thistle, Chamomile, Clover, Horsetail, Fennel, Dill, Dandelion, Aloe vera, and Watercress, and these are just naming a few- the most easily recognizable.

We found a spot deep in the woods with a large Bay Laurel tree. “Lets go hiking to get some more Bay leaves”… my kind of FUN!

Trees, leaves. Wisdom and medicine of the ancients..

Anyways, my daughter just turned 5 months old, and my hair is still falling out in clumps. I eat a good diet, take multivitamins, and live a healthy lifestyle.  I am still exclusively nursing. My body is supporting 2 people. Nutritional demands are high.  There are no health food stores here. There is no food co-op. What should I do?

Use my natural wise woman wisdom and HARVEST STINGING NETTLE.

nettleharvest

 

There may not be a health food store, but there is plenty of health providing food and herbal medicine. So, yesterday, we harvested Stinging Nettle. Early spring is the perfect time to harvest Nettles.

Beautiful Green Medicine

Beautiful Green Medicine

To protect the nettle, and for the most health providing leaves, I have learned only to harvest the top three tiers of leaves on each plant. To protect yourself from the painful stings, wear gloves.

You can use fresh nettle right a way, but you have to steam or cook it. It tastes delicious in soup. Or gather the nettle in small bundles, and hang to dry. Depending on the humidity, the leaves should dry within a few days. Then you can make delicious tea and infusions. :) Once dried or steamed the stinging disappears.

Tying the Nettle in bundles, WITH GLOVES

Tying the Nettle in bundles, WITH GLOVES

“There are no contraindications to the use of stinging nettle infusion. Side effects may include: thicker hair, softer skin, stronger veins, and greater delight in life.” ~Susun Weed

“Nettle is amazingly rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, especially the critical trace minerals: anti-cancer selenium, immune-enhancing sulphur, memory-enhancing zinc, diabetes-chasing chromium, and bone-building boron. A quart of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins.” ~Susun Weed

A couple of the drying bundles in my kitchen.. (being blessed perhaps by the prayer flags)

A couple of the drying bundles in my kitchen.. (being blessed perhaps by the prayer flags)

Nettle really is a powerful energizing healing tonic.I am grateful that we have so much green medicine growing everywhere. Taking our health in our own hands (sometimes with gloves). haha. ;)

Be Healthy~Yogini Tiff

 

Yoga At A Gym, An Unexpected Miracle

Yogini Tiff:

This is an old post, but I reread it today and was truly amazed once again by the strangeness and the magic of my journey… this was written before I had ever been to the Azores, and about a class and a time dear to my heart. xxxx

Originally posted on Flowing Yogini :

Two years ago, a fellow yoga teacher called me, and asked if I had interest in taking over one of her classes at a nearby gym. I was teaching a lot of classes at the time, and I had no interest in teaching at a gym. “I can’t teach GYM yoga!” was my snobby response.

Anyways, a couple of days later,  I was at my son’s rehearsal for a play he was in. Sitting and waiting, I had a conversation with one of the other mom’s. She happened to be the fitness coordinator from the very same gym. She asked if I would teach a class there. I realized there was clearly a divine pull for me to teach there. So, I told her I would try it. Honestly, I never would have looked for a class at a gym. Gyms make me uncomfortable. I need a quiet, sacred space to practice. But, I agreed to teach…

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