Elderberry To The Rescue- How We Fight Off Fall and Winter Germs

mwt-elderberry

What is Elderberry and why it’s a mandatory staple in our house for the fall and winter months?

Elderberry is one of the most common herbs used for seasonal wellness.

Used for colds and flu primarily, they contain: organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid,vitaman A and B and a large amount of vitamin C.

They are also mildly laxative, a diuretic, and diaphoretic.

Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries.

According to test tube studies these flavonoids include anthocyanins that are powerful antioxidants and protect cells against damage.

Elderberries also have a really pleasant taste, are safe for kiddos and for pregnant or nursing mamas as well.

Every fall/winter we make a simple elderberry syrup to take daily

1-2TBS/day for prevention, every few hours to treat illness -roughly 1-3 tsp. for kids 2 and up.

((Though with my daughter she received it as young as 1 year.))

elderberry-syrup-recipe

Syrup Ingredients:

 * ⅔- 1 c. of dried elderberries
*3-4 c. water ( some recipes use apple cider instead!)
*2 tbs ginger
*½ tsp black pepper
*1 tsp cinnamon
*1 tbs licorice
*½ tsp. Cloves
*½ tsp nutmeg(optional)

 Place all herbs in a pot.

Add water.

Bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Turn off heat.

Strain herbs using a mesh strainer and/or cheese cloth.

Combine the liquid with raw honey

(depending on how sweet you like your syrup use 1:1 ratio or ½:1 ratio.

So 1 cup of honey to 1 cup of syrup or 1 c. of honey to 2 c. syrup) or anywhere in between.

Other recipes use closer to 1 c. honey to 3 c. liquid decoction (the boiled liquid from roots/berries).

Stir.

Pour into glass jar or amber bottle.

Store in fridge for a month or so.

Make sure to label with dates for optimal freshness!

We have also loved turning our Elderberry Syrup into Gummy Snacks.

(great as a daily treat, or to munch on when your feeling under the weather)

elderberry-gummies-recipe

Gummy Ingredients:

 * Silicone Molds Or A Glass Pan
( you can cut them into squares once gelled)
*Beef Gelatin Powder
*2 Cups of Liquid

Mix 1 c. of cold syrup with 3 TBS gelatin.

Heat the other cup of syrup and then add to the mixture.

Whisk.

Pour into molds and put in the fridge for an hour or two. Voila!

Mama Wellness Tip- Finding your Happy Womb Breath

 

Use this quick and easy breathing meditation whenever you need to feel connected and restful.

Especially great to ease cramps or feelings of anxiety !

Click below to view the Happy Womb Breath Video and create your happy womb.

http://bit.ly/HappyWombVideo


Are you a mama struggling to find her way through the sea of information that is out there?

I would love to work one on one with you so you feel totally empowered and ready to make all the best choices for you and your little one.

Click here to book your breakthrough session

 

Should you practice yoga during your period?

A lot of women have this question: Should I practice yoga while I have my period?  Or maybe this thought has never occurred to you!  After all, we live in modern American.  We have tampon commercials that promise us we can ride horses, wear bikinis, and never even notice we have a period.  So why not practice yoga? Why we should stop ignoring and start loving our periods is a blog post for another day (in fact, it’s written right here.)

But let’s assume that you, the wise and enlightened woman you are, want to work with your body and not against it.  Should you practice yoga during your period? And if so, are there certain kinds of practices that are better or worse to do?

“SHE SAID IT DIDN’T MATTER”

One of my clients once told me that her yoga teacher said there were no changes that needed to be made to her practice during her period, and there were no poses that benefitted a healthy cycle or fertility.

Well, Geeta S. Iyengar (daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar – an entire style of yoga) says that’s simply not true. She’s dedicated her career to helping women overcome painful periods, illness connected to cycles and womb health.   She says in her book The Women’s Yoga Book,

“Yoga is meditation in action.  If you organize your practice in response to all phases of your menstrual cycle, it will provide you with the power and comfort of ritual and will add stability to your life by reestablishing your link with nature’s cycles.”

I agree.  So, if we know that there are certain poses to practice during certain times of your cycle, we know that during your period you want to select poses that enhance the energy that’s already happening.

APANA VATA

Apana is the downward flow of elimination that is associated with eliminating anything unwanted from the body, including shedding the uterine lining.  If we want to work with this energy and not aggravate it (and cause symptoms to worsen or appear) we want to choose poses that are:

  • Gentle.
  • Don’t compress the belly, uterus or ovaries.
  • Don’t reverse the blood flow (i.e. inversions).
  • Help reduce swelling, cramping and fatigue.

Some teachers recommend you don’t practice at all during your cycle, and you may find that this rule works well for you.  But if you choose to practice during your cycle choose a home practice so you can tailor your postures to your needs.  Follow these general guidelines:

  • Avoid standing poses – they generate too much heat that’s already being created from menstruation.
  • Avoid twists – they over tax your organs and can cause flooding or clotting of menstrual blood.
  • Try gentle seated bends – they can help reduce swelling.
  • Use seated forward folds (leaving room for belly or gently compressing on belly can bring relief from cramps depending on what feels right in your body.) They quiet the brain and reduce fatigue.
  • Avoid inversions – they reduce that apana vata flow of mala or bodily waste like menstrual blood. Can contribute to problems like heavy bleeding and endometriosis.
  • Reclining poses are wonderful – they help with feelings of pelvic pain and fatigue or headaches.
  • Avoid backbends – they overtax the system.  Gentle supported backbends like an elevated supta bada konasana are exceptions.
  • No seated pranayama- too challenging on nervous system.  Choose gentle breaths in reclining positions.

Jot down how you feel or take note of what poses feel best during your cycle. Click here for my favorite yoga poses for fertility enhancing!

sandra yoga period

Mama Wellness Tip- Spring yoga pose for happy hormones

For this Mama Wellness Tip you will start in utkatasana by stepping the feet to touch.

Bend into your knees, slightly tuck your tailbone.

Inhale and raise your arms, exhale and bring your palms to touch at your heart

as you twist to your right, bringing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.

Check that your left knee hasn’t moved forward (keep both knees in line).

Repeat for other side.

Especially useful for PMS, PCOS and endometriosis sufferers.

(Avoid this pose if you are pregnant, bleeding, or are past ovulation in your cycle.)

Interested in learning more about how yoga can improve your hormonal happiness,

schedule your breakthrough session with Sandra. 

mwtyogahappyhormones

 

The Green Kind

Hey Mamas,

Sandra here.  I want to get real for a minute, shall we?

It’s the New Moon, which is a time of planting new things. It’s a fresh start – the time women would typically start their new cycle, start bleeding. The time to start herbal tinctures and plant seeds. To be honest, this feels like a waste of time for me right now.  New seeds??  New seeds?? I can’t seem to get the ones I already planted to grow! Nothing seems to be taking root, nothing seems to be sprouting.  It’s a season of struggle for sure in many areas of my life.  (And if we’re honest, isn’t there always one area that is in the middle of some kind of struggle?)  The details aren’t even that important.

I know you can relate.  Is it trying to get pregnant for you? Does the idea of trying One. More. Time. just fill you with dread? Are you afraid everyday for the fragile life that you might be carrying?

Maybe it’s pregnancy.  You know that technically there’s your baby, your future, growing inside of you, but mostly it feels like inconvenience, pain, sleeplessness, discomfort, fear, exhaustion. It’s dragging.  Most of the time it feels like it’s getting worse, not growing something amazing.

Maybe your babies are here.  Maybe they’re even grown.  You’ve done all this work to help them grow and grow yourself and you feel like those seeds must have gotten washed away with the last storm.  Where’s the progress?  Why does everything feel hard?

Mama, I’m with you. More than you know. 

Let me join you there, in that place.  Not in a join-the-pity-party kind of way, but in a real, let’s be honest, this is how it is kind of way.

I watched a sermon the other day where the pastor brilliantly talked about the place between denial and despair.  It’s called destiny.  If we deny the reality of things, we’re not optimists, we’re crazy.  If I pretended that I was feeling awesome through my whole twin pregnancy for the sake of protecting my image to clients – that’s just a lie.  On the other hand is despair.  If I just spiraled downward into a hole and gave up hope that God could or would do anything beautiful through that experience, I’d kill any chance for growth – despair.

The place in the middle is destiny.  The place in the middle is where the seeds eventually bloom.  Where the winter eventually ends and something starts to look green.  Where the joy we’ve been fighting so hard to hold onto fills us with energy and we take one more step and finally see a breakthrough.

Take one more step, mama.

You can do it.  I’ll do it with you. Plant more seeds.  Wait on the planted ones.  Water them with your tears – of sadness and of joy.  Try One. More. Time.  God’s moving in the seasons when it looks like nothing is happening or ever will. How long ago did I plant that seed of hope for a baby? That seed of health for myself? Who even remembers at this point?  Don’t give up the hope.   God is a God of green hope.  There’s a future for you – your health, your family – even if it seems like it’s buried under a lot of *shit* right now.

Happy New Moon Mamas,  See you at Harvest time. 🙂

Mama Wellness Tip- Let the Moon boost your Fertility

The moon plays a crucial role in your healthy sleep habits and in return your fertility.

Follow this Mama Wellness Tip to maximize the benefit!

Need more help with finding hormonal happiness?  Click here to schedule your Mama Wellness Breakthrough Session and get the on-on-one attention you need and deserve.

Mama Wellness Tip to make your house more joyful

Add this one thing to your shopping list for joy on your mama journey no matter where you are. It’s especially useful to enhance the romance of life. Make sure to choose roses or dried rose petals that are free of pesticides. Especially if you will be adding to your tea. What makes this even better, a girls night shared with a fellow mama soaking in the joy and sharing some tea time together.

Looking for on online collection of mama’s to join on this journey with, join us on facebook Happy WOMBen: Pre-conception, Pregnancy, and Mama Wellness. 

How to Live Mindfully From the Couch

I read a piece from the NY Times the other day about how gratitude practices have evolved to really just be self-help nonsense.  That we’ve turned the gratitude exercises from motivating us to share and help others to narcissistic-feel-better-about-yourself-without-doing-anything mumbo jumbo. 2008-01-01 12.31.54

Well they’re partially right.  There is a superficial nature to some of them.  Random sayings embroidered on pillows about embracing life or following your bliss don’t really help us in any practical way.  And they don’t help anyone else either.  (Truth be told I actually have a pet peeve for cheesy sayings pasted on walls or t shirts).

But there is a science to gratitude.  “gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure).”

And gratitude has been shown to improve mental health and wellness.  And do you know what happens when women have improved mood, self-esteem, and mental health?  They not only have better physical health, but so do their families. In short, finding gratitude motivates us towards expressing gratitude in the world around us, and therefore makes the world a better place.  Here’s your formula: Gratitude for Mama = Happier Planet.

In short, finding gratitude motivates us towards expressing gratitude in the world around us, and therefore makes the world a better place.  Here’s your formula: Gratitude for Mama = Happier Planet.

I have been trapped in bed for weeks.

With a toddler and a grumpy husband who is slowly recovering from the most challenging academic semester of his life.  I’m 457 weeks pregnant with twins.  We’re moving tomorrow 4 hours away to be closer to his PhD program (and farther away from the budding birth center that I have been – until now- a part of building.  A lifelong dream of mine.) It’s -4 degrees outside. Did I mention that we all have had a head cold for over 6 weeks? THis particular virus responds to no amount of echinacea/vitamin c/homemade elderberry/neti pot/EOs/bone broth.  Nor the the antibiotics I finally caved in and tried a week ago in an act of desperation despite my obsession with healthy bacteria during pregnancy.

I say all of this not to complain or self-depricate but to prove my point: gratitude grows in strange places with faith; and in fact, it’s these places where it is needed the most.

I am living mindfully from the couch.

It’s not that I don’t think negative things.  There have been several occasions (ok, more than several) where I have cried into my husband’s shoulder “I give up, I can’t do it’.  He once found me in the bathroom with the lights off crying by myself, hiding from my cranky toddler (he had been gone for 3 hours).  But I believe that God is the God of the darkness and the light; the pain in the night and the joy in the morning.  And I believe that in limitations creativity begins to thrive.

“gratitude grows in strange places with faith; and in fact, it’s these places where it is needed the most.”

 

When Walls Become Doorways: Creativity and the Transforming Illness is a great book about the lives of so many beautiful artists that were limited by their illnesses and had to use creative ways to not only make art, but that the making of the art became their only way to convalesce.

My yoga practice is my favorite healing tool.  But my serious Symphysis Pubis Discomfort and consistent braxton hicks have left me with about 4 poses that are accessible (legs up the wall, cat/cow, child’s pose and heart melting pose).  And sometimes moving between them can cause me to wince in pain (though once I arrive the relief is wonderful.)  I can journal and knit and thankfully meet with clients on the phone, but I can’t cook nourishing foods, I sometimes have to ask for help to get out of the bathtub, and taking a walk is out of the question.

So what to do?   Create a new way to be mindful, to have gratitude, to praise God in a dark night of discomfort that things are growing and will eventually bloom in unexpected and awe-inspiring ways.

There will be a spring!

I breathe.  A LOT.  I rely heavily on my husband (and also my closest friends) which has brought us to many new points of understanding and love.  I read to my toddler and I knit and read and pray.

Here are my tips if you are in a season of needing to live mindfully from your “couch”.  (i.e. you need to get creative with tools for understanding and expressing gratitude):

  1. Breathe.  Nothing brings stability and humility like a cleansing breath.  A warming or cooling breath.  A deep, deep breath that reminds you you’re alive and all is well for 2 seconds.
  2. Whatever yoga practice you can do, do.  Moving the body in meditation is so pwerful and healing.
  3. Pray.  Rely on the holy spirit to lead you through your season of seeming dryness to the next season of reaping joy.
  4. Surrender.  This is in fact my bhavana for the year.  (Don’t know what that is?  Join the Virtual Mama Wellness Circle every month and find out!) There is so much beauty in the art of surrender and I learning that in small, painfully beautiful steps.
  5. Be grateful.  You can be grateful from anywhere.

 

Need help with your Mama Wellness Journey?  I’m here.  Let’s meet and get you the tools you need to create a deeper level of wellness.

Guest Post: Authentic Mama Emotion

When we recognize our right to feel what we feel and really experience our emotions, the good and the bad, we connect to a deeper part of ourselves and allow real healing to occur.

This week has been full of the unexpected for me. My three year old was rushed to the ER and will subsequently need surgery next week, and an old friend has been declared missing.  I’m normally in touch with my emotions, but this week a weird thing happened.  I felt like I didn’t have the right to feel what I was feeling.

My sons ER trip ended in the best way it possibly could have, and we are extremely blessed that we didn’t end up in an emergency surgery situation. A part of me felt guilty for feeling so afraid and upset about his upcoming surgery when I know that the outcome could have been so much worse.

When I found out that my friend was missing, I had a horrible ache in my heart that has yet to go away, but logically I felt that it was selfish to be so upset myself when his family and close friends must be unconsolable.

But the truth is that every emotion I may be feeling, logical or not, is completely valid.  I am scared. I am heartbroken.

While I am so incredibly grateful that my son was okay that night and didn’t need emergency surgery, it doesn’t take away my fear of his upcoming procedure.

This amazing man who was once an incredibly close friend will always have space in my  heart even though we haven’t seen each other in a decade and our lives took different paths. Yes, my pain is different than the unimaginable pain his mother, father, brother and sister are feeling, but it doesn’t make it any less real.

I’ve talked to so many mothers who push aside feelings of fear, anxiety or doubt because they feel they should be grateful to experience motherhood at all.  But the fear and doubt doesn’t cancel out the joy and excitement. To be scared doesn’t mean you are not incredibly grateful and happy. We are beautiful and complex and contradictory, and by honouring all of our emotions, we are honouring our entire selves.

Today, I wanted to share a simple meditation I do when I am feeling unsettled about a particular emotion or feeling I am having.  It connects me to my authentic emotions and gets me out of my head, allowing me to move forward from a place of wholeness and light and let real healing begin.Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 9.51.37 AM

If you have any meditation items you use, set them up to create a place of peace for yourself. I set up my meditation blanket, burn some palo santo or sage and set the intention of the meditation while holding my mala beads and favorite stone.

  • Repeat silently or out loud your intention for the meditation:

“ I set the intention for this meditation to tune me into my truest emotions allowing myself to move forward from a place of love, peace and acceptance”

  • Sit comfortably with your legs crossed. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, witnessing but not judging your breath.
  • Feel the cool air entering your nostrils and the warm air exiting.
  • Bring your focus to what has been bothering you and bring your awareness to the physical sensations in your body.
  • Settle your awareness on any tension or restriction in your body. Feel it without judgement. You may experience fear, anxiety or joy.  Let each come to you organically and feel the physical manifestation of your emotion.
  • Sit with this feeling until it begins to subside
  • Once the feeling starts to subside, imagine with each inhale a bright light filling the area with acceptance and love. Exhale any remaining tension.
  • When you are ready bring your awareness back to your breath and spend a few moments absorbing the meditation.
  • Close your meditation by thanking your body for guiding you to your authentic emotions.

 

“Thank you for allowing me to see my true feelings without judgement. I accept my true emotions with love and compassion”

Namaste

 

It is my intention that we all embrace and accept ourselves as the complex, beautiful and sometimes contradictory women and mothers that we are lucky to be. Click here to listen to the guided meditation from Heather.

 

mama mala guest postHeather Mudry is the founder of Mama Malas, creating mala beads and intentional accessories that support women on the journey of motherhood. She lives in Calgary, AB with her three year old son, husband and pup and is obsessed with coffee, bonfires, mountains and the moon. She believes every mother deserves to feel radiant, adore her life and create her own path and strives to foster a community of mindful mamas that encourage and support each other to live according to their intuitions and desires.

Mama Wellness Tip – Is that headache actually depression?

prenatal headache

Ever get a chronic headache for awhile or a mysterious back pain that won’t seem to go away?  Sometimes there is an underlying cause that doesn’t get much attention: depression and anxiety.  Many women have symptoms like unexplained headaches or low back pain that seems unrelated to any kind of change in diet or movement.  Sometimes these symptoms can accompany feelings of depression or anxiety or they can be the sole symptom.  How do you know?  Checking with a therapist, midwife, naturopath or other trusted care provider is a good place to start, especially if you’re having other more severe symptoms (like suicidal thoughts) or the headaches are accompanied by dizziness, nausea or swelling.  But here are a few questions to get you thinking:

  • Is the pain accompanied by a life change of any kind?
  • Are you having feelings of resistance to anything in your life (old or new) such as going to work, exercise or group meetings (particularly ones you used to look forward to)?
  • Do you experience this pain at specific times of day or with specific people?
  • Is the pain dull and irritating or sharp?
  • Does rest help?
  • Does self-care help relieve it (like journaling, meditation or a yoga practice)?
  • Does it improve or disappear when you spend time in a nurturing environment?
  • Does it worsen in certain environments?

If several of these questions are a yes, the underlying cause or a portion of it, could be psychological.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you have depression but it does mean that your emotions are trying to get your attention!  Write down your answers to these and then write a list of ways you might incorporate more steps towards making changes that help you understand and heal whatever is going on emotionally!

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