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"I do not understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us."
- Anne LaMott

The views expressed are those of the authors and should not replace medical advice by your qualified healthcare professional. Before starting any nutrition program, you should always consult your physician.

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Archive for the 'Spirit & Personal Energy' Category
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Yoga is Meditation
Sunday, September 13th, 2015


In recent years, there has been a significant paradigm shift with more people than ever doing yoga and meditation. Naturally, most people start with the physical part of yoga, but yoga is far more than just a physical workout. If we look at the health literature, meditation—a focus of attention that is intention—is actually considered a form of yoga, as it shares many of the same components:

  • Postures (asanas)
  • Hand gestures (mudras)
  • Sound (mantras) – basic vibratory sound
  • Breathing (pranayama) – passive or active
  • Focus (drishti) – position/focus of eyes

Why do meditation?

To understand the clues our bodies give us we first have to learn to listen to our bodies, including our thoughts. Meditation can be a powerful technique in becoming aware of your own self-talk. When we meditate we don’t stop our thinking, nor do our thoughts disappear. Instead, we simply observe them and do not dwell upon them. Meditation is about redirecting our attention to our breath, a visual point and/or a sound once we become aware of our thoughts. As author Sara Avant Stover shares, “meditation teaches us that we are not our thoughts, they are just one dimension of each of us [and] help us to better acquaint each of us with our inner dialogue.”

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Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Healthy Lifestyle, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: 0

Paying Homage to the Cooking Giants of Our Lives
Thursday, May 26th, 2011

After a very long time, I drove four miles to my parents’ house to have a home-cooked meal. Their home cooked meal. It immediately evoked what I already knew: food is not just about flavor but also about nourishment of the body and soul. In my family, meals were about the mothers’ and grandmothers’ love.

My grandmother was one of the first working moms in my family living in India. She was a principal of a school and got married late in life, 19-years-old was pretty late back then — because her father valued education. Although she was a professional, she still had her household duties. I remember when I was 4-years-old I asked her to repeat a story about how she would cook for the family when she got back home from school. She would come home and quickly throw off her sari to change into her daily salwar kameez and make fresh chappatis for all of her 7 children. The children would sit Indian-style, lined up on the kitchen floor as she served fresh chappatis to each of them. She would quickly spoon out portions of a fresh vegetable sabzi that was half-cooked to each child’s steel plate. To this day, my mom prefers her vegetables under-cooked because of her how her mother made vegetables.

I too love the smell of garlic and ginger sizzling on the stovetops and eating chappatis just as they are made. It reminds me of my childhood and my mom’s lamb curry and chickpeas. My mom made chappatis while we set the table and then sat with us while we said our daily prayer. More likely than not, she went back into the kitchen to finish making the chappatis as we started eating. At some point, I began to feel that a woman always keeping her eyes on the kitchen was anti-feminist. Fresh chappatis, that keep a woman apart from her family at dinner, just weren’t necessary. Though I stand on the shoulders of generations of women who brought food straight from the pan to the plate, I chose not to make fresh chappatis.

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Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Food & Recipes, Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition & Health, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: more

Discovery: A Yoga Conference Comes to You
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Two young girls meditating with hands joinedI drove through the beautiful back roads of Maryland and through the Poconos in Pennsylvania to the Himalayan Institute, a former monastery on 400 beautiful acres in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The sold-out International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) symposium was held over a weekend last fall in October 2010.

From the symposium I realized there is a sea of change occurring in our society as we take control of our health and stress management. The medical field is beginning to integrate the best healing practices from many cultures. As I indulged in all the yoga books I could afford and inhaled the smells of paper and binding I met yoga teachers and researchers from all walks of life.

The conference blended intellectual discovery with a daily yoga practice, while leaving ample time for reflection in solitude or quiet groups. I shared a dormitory with ten other women where we did not speak after 10 p.m. to honor silence in the monastery tradition. I discovered nuggets of truth from lectures and conversations over fragrant vegetarian communal meals and fresh chai. The IAYT conference showed me that yoga offers the possibility of transforming each one of us.

Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa a Yoga Researcher

Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa

The IAYT conference experience reflects the vision of Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa an international speaker, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute and Kripalu Center for Yoga. Join me for your own intellectual journey and experience of yoga on March 5, 2011 at The Science of Yoga seminar from 8 am to 12:30 pm in Arlington, Virginia as we welcome Dr. Khalsa to the Northern Virginia and Washington D,C, area.

Have your own yoga experience with the lovely Maryam in the morning and meet a yoga pioneer, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa. Bring a friend, enjoy some tea and good food, do some yoga and learn how you can empower yourself. All levels welcome. Contact Anu to find out more information and register today.

Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Announcements, Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition & Health, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: more

A Heart Attack Changed My Life, Part 2: “Yoga & Integrative Medicine”
Thursday, January 28th, 2010

yoga matsDr. Dilip Sarkar suffered a heart attack on his 52nd birthday. He was a student of Western medicine, a vascular surgeon and, overall, very healthy. His heart attack forced him to re-evaluate. Eight years later, he practices yoga asana (postures), pranayam (breathing exercises), and teaches yoga therapy. In the first part of this series, he narrates his experience having a heart attack and making big changes in his life. Here, he answers questions about his new vocation and what he wants people to learn from his experience.

Anu Kaur: What is yoga therapy? And what type of yoga therapy do you teach?

Dilip Sarkar, MD: Yoga therapy is a state of empowering an individual toward wellness and health by the application of the philosophy and practice of yoga. The philosophy we teach is “Yoga Sutra of Patanjali” and the practice is “Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga.”

AK: As an advocate of yoga, how do feel yoga changes a person physically, mentally and spiritually?

DS: Yoga by definition is the union of the mind-body-spirit. It cures a disease and maintains health through self-realization. You look inside yourself, atman darshan (introspection), and observe what is bothering you and hurting you. Yoga tradition believes that, you are the cause and cure of your disease. By doing yoga, you achieve overall wellness and protect yourself against the progression of disease.

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Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition & Health, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: 0

The Gift of Mindful Eating
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Savor the Moment

Savor the Moment

Are you so busy that you multi-task in all areas of your life, including your eating habits? Functioning at maximum level, how many of us have eaten lunch in front of the computer or in the car, skipped a meal or inhaled something that our taste buds did not even catch? Is your schedule packed with meetings, chores, deadlines and social obligations? Have you ever found yourself in front of the candy dish at work without even remembering walking to it? Maybe you actually do sit down and have a meal, but you’re so preoccupied while eating that you still don’t taste the food.

If that is the case, mindfulness can be a wonderful tool to begin using in your life. Mindfulness is the opposite of being on autopilot. In today’s busy, information-loaded world, multi-tasking has become the accepted norm and eating is no exception. However, mindless and unaware eating can have an effect on us, both psychologically and physically—and eventually takes a toll on our body and overall quality of life.

More and more research is showing that mindfulness can play a role in managing stress, depression, anxiety and medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity and disordered eating. The beauty of mindfulness is that it is simple and available to you at all times.

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Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition & Health, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: more

A Heart Attack Changed My Life, Part 1: “You must be overworked.”
Thursday, December 24th, 2009
Dr. Dilip Sarkar

Dilip Sarkar, MD

Dr. Dilip Sarkar is one of the healthiest vascular surgeons in Portsmouth, Virginia. He exercises, eats right and gets regular check-ups. He doesn’t smoke, have no traditional risk factors and doesn’t have a family history of heart disease.

While no one expects to have a heart attack, Sarkar was completely unprepared for the heart attack he suffered on his 52nd birthday. He narrates his experience and begins the story of how he transformed his life.

Dilip Sarkar: It was my operating day. I still remember it was a Wednesday. I had just completed 7 or 8 surgeries and had come home. I was not feeling well (unexplained fatigue) but I did not have any classic symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain or shortness of breath. When I shared my discomfort with my wife she said that I looked tired and that I “must be over worked.” A family friend came for my birthday dinner that evening and I could not eat properly during the meal. My friend also said, “You must be overworked.”

After my friend left, I checked my pulse and it was high. As a physician, I knew it was a cardiovascular issue. My wife told me to call a physician, which I did. My cardiologist friend was waiting for me at the hospital when I got there. He took my EKG and told me I was having a heart attack. He took me right in for a coronary angiogram, which showed triple vessel disease. The doctor recommended coronary artery bypass surgery, which was performed two days later.

From that moment, something changed inside me. I have always been a spiritual person. But at that moment after surgery I said to God, “Have it as you will.” I had to surrender to him. I had been one of the busiest surgeons in town, yet when I came back home after my operation I decided I was not going to go back to work part time, as suggested by my cardiologist.

This experience had me questioning, “Why me? What is next in my life?” My cardiologist had told me after the surgery that I did not possess any risk factors for a future heart attack, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. Therefore, the remedy was not in medication (to control the risk factors), but rather in learning to control the mind and the stress of daily life. I wondered what else should I do since all of my life I had studied science and medicine.

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Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition & Health, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: more

A Yoga Instructor’s Perspective
Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
Maryam, Yoga Instructor

Maryam, Yoga Instructor

Maryam was born in Iran and came to the US when she was 6 years old. She grew up in the Reston/Northern Virginia area and was exposed to art through her father, Nasser Ovissi, a living legend of Contemporary Iranian art.

Maryam studied Art Management and opened a gallery dedicated to Iranian-American Art Gallery in California.   She is an artist who now co-owns the amazing yoga studio, Beloved Yoga, in Reston, Virginia.  As she describes it “a place for people to just do yoga.”  Maryam is not new to the fitness world.  Maryam and her husband are also the owners of Kamp Pendleton Personal Training Studio.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with her at the delightful and refreshing Cafe Sano in Reston.  I discovered a place that locals enjoy and got a glimpse of Reston’s lake culture.

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Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Healthy Lifestyle, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: 1

Three Meal Planning Tips
Monday, October 12th, 2009

Preparing FoodA kitchen is like a favorite soft t-shirt; it feels better the more you use it. Settling into your kitchen can take a bit of trial and error as you figure out the ergonomics that will best fit your needs. Learning the key place to keep your favorite sharp knife so you can quickly dice onions and vegetables and toss them into the pan while the cumin sizzles or placing your spices within arm’s reach as your prepare a meal in under 30 minutes after work can take a bit of customization.

The kitchen is an amazing space in many ways. When guests come over, they all congregate here, no matter how beautiful your living room or how much seating is available elsewhere. The warmth of your kitchen draws people to it and ultimately to the nourishment it can provide. It is the part of the home where tantalizing aromas are created and waft through the hallway and into rooms, beckoning everyone to inquire, “What’s cooking?”

The responsibility of cooking for two (or more) is peppered with the reconciling of tastes. He likes it spicy; you like it bland. She says coconut curry; you say no way. Where do you start when blending tastes, coordinating schedules and dividing daily responsibilities? Awareness and planning can make all the difference.

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Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition & Health, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: 1

Nourishment: Nutrient-Rich Foods
Monday, June 8th, 2009

Nuchi gusui

Food should nourish life. This is the best medicine.

(Okinawan Proverb & Dietary Guidelines)

For several years now I have been enthralled with the Okinawan culture in Japan and their elderly.  I have been fascinated with Okinawans who are in their “hundreds” not because they are old, but because of how young they are literally in their heart, mind and body.

Now I don’t know about you but I don’t really want to live to be hundred something unless I am having fun, healthy and can make use of the wisdom I would have hopefully gained from living a century.  I love this piece National Geographic did on longevity several years back and still have the original cover picture of an elderly Okinawan gentleman doing a head-stand to remind me of what is possible if healthy habits are formed and sustained.

I believe daily healthy habits are really personal.  Each one of us is going to have a separate winning combo of how we exercise, feel connected (to the world and/or divinity) and of course how we eat.

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Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition & Health, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: 0

Gratitude: The Perfect Cup Exercise
Saturday, May 30th, 2009

In my world, a hot cup of tea (or anything warm) is not just part of that calming moment in the morning it is also my sensory reminder of gratitude.   As I took my yoga instructor’s advice this week and looked at “my inner landscape” I realized a very strange and unexpected thing has happened in my life.  Since starting this blog I have had a deepened sense of conviction in my work and whatever direction it may take me along with a greater sense of appreciation.

I have felt very grateful for those readers and friends who given their words of encouragement.  Most of us have experienced how a few kind words can make our day despite how brief those interactions may be.  For that I am thankful and happy.  Psychology research indicates that gratitude does indeed deepen our happiness.

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Posted by Anu Kaur  /  Filed under Announcements, Food & Recipes, Healthy Lifestyle, Spirit & Personal Energy  /  Comments: more

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