Mommy – Get Ready To Bloom!

There is no substitute for a mother’s love.  Some have been fortunate to have loving, supportive mothers.  Others lost their moms at a young age, some barely knew their moms or knew them not at all.

Mother’s Day, like many national holidays, can bring up a mixed bag of emotions.  As I wrestle with my mom’s latest illness, I realize the enormous love my mother has had for me and I for her, but I cannot discount the fact that mother/ daughter relationships can be fraught with complications.  In the end, love is the greatest healer.

serenity and yoga practicing at sunset, meditation

We all need to be mothered in one way or another.  One way to heal the mothering energy is to nurture ourselves.  When we nurture ourselves, it’s easier to nurture others  from a pure place. We bathe those in need with unconditional love.  This is the behavior of a healthy, mother energy.  If you’ve had a mom who has impacted your life in a most positive way, I know you count your blessings daily.  For those who have not had that kind of love, I think of you, especially on this occasion and send you Light and Love.  And for those who have recently lost their Mothers, I feel your pain more now than ever…  Mother’s Day can be a great time to put together a memory shrine for your mom no matter when she made her transition.

We have two botanical offerings to help invoke that nurturing energy, our Spiritual Spritzer called Nurturing and our Sea Scape Perfume.  Both are made with real jasmine essential oil and elements from the sea to calm and heal, not just for this special occasion, but for all year round.  Yemanja, Auset, Mother Mary, Privhti we call on you!

Happy Mother’s Day To All!

 

It Hurt So Good – Thai Massage

After 17 hours of  flying time to arrive in Bangkok, Thailand today, I couldn’t wait to have one of those amazing Thai massages.  It hurt so good, I felt I had to share this incredible treat with you.  Thailand is called the land of the Buddha. But another thing that Thailand is quite famous for is, Thai Massage. Thai Massage has a profound healing affect on the body, due to the many levels of the body that this massage technique is able to access.

Our tour guide informed us that there is no hip or knee replacement surgery in Thailand due to great affect Thai massage has on the body. She mentioned that Thai massage is also the reason why senior citizens of Thailand have no problem squatting to use their traditional, hole in the ground kind of toilet. BTW, squatting is the natural position to relieve one’s bowels. It is a toddler’s tendency to assume the squat position before they are taught to sit on a potty. Indigenous people around the planet, squat to relieve themselves. Squatting prevents straining, undue pressure on the legs and thereby prevents hemorrhoids.

Thai massage addresses meridians also known as channels along the body. When having Thai massage some of the points along the channels are extremely tender when pressed by the therapist, due to blockages. It’s the kind of tenderness that can cause you to groan in pain. Yet, by the second, or third round of adding pressure to that same area, the tenderness subsides, indicating the blockage has been cleared and you don’t have to consider knocking out the therapist for causing you such discomfort.

The massage therapist uses fingers and thumbs for small areas, forearms and elbows for medium size muscles and the foot and knee for larger areas of the body like hamstrings and gluteus maximus. Actually, they use their whole bodies to massage you. They pull and stretch you like you’re a rubber doll. It’s quite incredible. It’s the one massage modality that doesn’t require you to remove your clothes.

One of the ladies I’m traveling with has been to Thailand so many times, the only thing she’s interested in buying this time around are massage therapy sessions. On our first day here she had a four-hour massage. Another friend of mine who lived in other parts of Asia and the Emirates, used to also travel to Thailand just for the massages. Not only are the massages great, they cost under $10.00 US dollars per hour. Often those in the know travel to Thailand just have massages all day long and or for days in a row.

These massage parlors are ubiquitous in Thailand as everyone here receives these services.  I was the only foreigner in the little spot I went to today.  The parlor I visited had approximately 7 “stations” in one large room.  All of the massages are done on a mat, on the floor and it was very clean.  I had to chuckle when near the end of my session one elder therapist asked where I was from.  I said, New York.  She couldn’t understand me even after I repeated it, so my therapist whispered to her, “New York, she Negro American.”  I never felt so good to be referred to as a Negro before in my life.  Somehow the way she shared my heritage, touched my heart and caused a sweet internal laugh.

You don’t have to travel all the way to Thailand for Thai massage, especially if you live in New York or California, but if you can, it will be worth the trip, because you will get the real deal, at a price that will make you feel guilty. It’s the best guilty pleasure of them all.

 

Celebrating My 60th Year!

This past weekend I celebrated my 60 birthday by marking the date with a photo shoot. My father was a  photographer for the navy; and as such I’ve been in front of the camera with a professional photographer starting in my youth.

Part of me was hesitant about this decision because when I mentioned it to key people in my life they seen to yawn at the idea. But I found certain images kept reappearing before me as if they wanted to be born. Finally, I called a long time friend, photographer Edward C. Jones, who I’ve known since our days at Howard University and asked if he was up for this venture. His was the first positive feedback. Even with that vote of confidence, I vacillated many times, I wanted to cancel, but eventually I went forward with this plan.

Part of my inspiration to do this shoot was to address “looking younger” than my age. What has been most important to me, is feeling vibrant and healthy. I have often felt humbled by these compliments and wanted to share that my looking younger and being healthy did not come from “good genes”. My so-called youthful appearance, I believe has come from a lifestyle of both discipline and sacrifice.  What has been most surprising to me is that as I become older, being disciplined has not become easier.  There is a part of me wants to rest on my laurels, but I know it doesn’t work like that. You use it or you loose it. I know that I’m only as good as my last meditation, my last yoga practice, my last act of compassion.

When in my 20s and 30s I was not out partying and drinking on weekends like many people are at that age. I was at home going to bed early, including on the weekends, after standing on my feet braiding hair for 8, 10, 12 hours a day. Instead of partying and drinking alcohol, I was consuming herbal infusions and fresh pressed juices, and in bed most nights by 10:00.  And practicing yoga helped mitigate the occupational hazards of that sedentary work of standing and sitting on a high stool for hours on end.  Yoga saved me.

I am still an early to sleep, early to rise kind of gal. I was also a vegan at that time and practicing yoga on a regular basis as well as doing aerobic workout regularly (mostly power walking and bicycling around Central Park when I lived in Harlem and Prospect Park when I moved to Brooklyn). In addition, I belonged to Ausar Auset an African religious organization that focused on yoga, meditation, a spiritually based lifestyle and many of the same spiritual concepts and practices that I am re-visiting through the teachings of the Buddha, via the teachings of Thích Nhât Hanh, I was also introduced to at Ausar Auset .  Most of my close friends from that time are still my close friends today and they are all healthy, vibrant and on no medications; and many of them are five to seven years older than I am.

I sincerely believe my decision to live a healthy life style was greatly influenced by loosing my grandmother, who was my best friend, at the age of 8. My grandmother was just 48 years when she died of complications from type 2 diabetes and stroke. Diabetes “runs” in my family. But as we all have learned by now, that it’s really the diet and lifestyle that “runs” in the family and creates the conditions that lead to type 2 diabetes.

On the table behind me, my Ancestor shrine with photos of my dear grandmother and other family and friends now on the other side of eternity.

My grandmother amazed me as I watched her inject herself with insulin; she was a courageous hero in my eyes. And like most grandmothers of that era, she didn’t exercise. My Grandmother was a hairstylist who ended up with varicose veins, that later crippled her when she had a botched operation on them.  Additionally, my mother has been very sickly all my life in and out of hospitals ever since I was a young child and the same is true to this day. I did not want to continue this legacy of illness in my family. But of course I did not realize this consciously as a child.

It has been an amazing journey to reach this age in my life, many years past my grandmother’s time on the planet. My inspiration for this photo shoot in addition to celebrating my 60th year, is to hopefully inspire others to take care good care of their selves and consider including the wonders and benefits of yoga into their lives to uplift both the inner and outer body as well as the mind and spirit. And to also say, “Here’s to you Grandma.”  I feel she’s never left me, she ever at my side. Feel free to reach out to me for a yogic consultations and or private yoga classes.  You can reach me at Anu@AnuEssentials.com

Grandma, I made it! 60 and healthy with a life full of love and joy!

 

Check out the my YouTube video of a little Vinyasa Yoga Flow.

Photos by Edward C. Jones @edwardcjones3 / Make-up by Prentiss Anais @the1prentissanais

Clearing, Cleaning and Cleansing

Spring is on the horizon, the perfect season for clearing, cleaning, cleansing and throwing it away. Giving us a jump-start in this direction was the full moon in Virgo this past Sunday.  This is the planet in charge of structure and putting things in order, including ourselves. It’s not just cluttered drawers and closets that need clearing out, there’s a whole cadre of categories that are in need of “throwing it away.”

The Home ~ Though we may ignore it, we know when things need to be cleared out of closets, drawers, basements, attics, etc.  Perhaps it’s our office or the car that’s sorted with grime and or clutter. When we clear our physical spaces, it allows more mental space, for a clearer mind. Spring is the perfect season to throw it away or give it away, all those things that are taking up space in our physical world that we no longer use, want, or that no longer addresses who and where we are today. If you’re ready to seriously de-clutter, be careful to not go overboard. If you share a space with others, don’t assume it’s okay to thin their herd.  What may mean nothing to you could have great value to them. It’s wise to be both considerate and strategic on how you de-clutter. It will offer an opportunity to refresh and realign the energy in your space and within you.

The Body ~ Spring is the perfect season for internal cleansing. We are soon approaching the Spring Equinox, a time of the year for renewal, for clearing out the accumulation in our bodies from the winter season.  We can assist this process by including bitters into our diet, eating dandelion, chicory, plenty of fruits and increasing the intake of fresh, green juices into our diet.  The seasonal remedies of our grandparents, castor oil, cod liver oil, Swedish bitters and other home remedies worked back then and they are valuable now.  Cleansing the body is an uplifting and proactive way of welcoming spring and rejuvenating ourselves.

Many will “catch” a cold, in other words, will begin an internal cleansing. The mucous coming out of the body is the body’s natural way of cleaning out.  Instead of trying to suppress this cleansing with medications, assist this natural process by drinking plenty of fresh green juices, citrus juices and water to help flush out all the gook that has been storing up. Yes, it can be a bit snotty, but in the end your body will thank you.

The outer body needs clearing to. Exfoliating is a rejuvenating way to clear and reveal the silky, smooth skin under all the accumulated, dead skin cells. Exfoliation also stimulates the lymphatic system. Follow up exfoliation with smooth, hydrating moisturizers.

The Mind ~ During winter we may not be aware of the many subtle ways in which we hibernate. Winter is a time for resting, ruminating and planning, but we may gather a bit of mind clutter during that time with thoughts, ideas and perceptions that don’t serve us. Spring is a great time to let go of the mind clutter weighing us down. We may seek the help of a support group or therapist to guide us with freeing and clearing our minds and finding peace. Exercising can also help with mind clutter – aerobics, yoga, tai-chi, bicycling etc. and connecting with a spiritual practice can help release mind clutter.

Social Media ~ I recently took just two days off from social media and I can’t begin to tell you the level relief I felt, and the space in my head (peace) from not habitually checking my digital devices to see, to respond, assess and process image after image and idea after idea. For someone who is “required” to be on social media for work and who is in the habit of being there, taking that little break was a welcome reminder of the good old days of living only in the real world, leaving the virtual world behind. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with mind clutter, clocking out from social media for a spell can be very helpful with becoming centered again, of checking in and being present with the real you and your ‘real’ world. Perhaps you’re not on social media but there’s some other activity that you habitually partake in that’s draining you. Consider taking a break from it and experience the peace of mind.

Spirit ~ Last but not least, spiritual clutter. If your heart is not centered at this time, “spring can really hang you up the most”. It’s more difficult to hide inside the home or inside of ourselves once spring arrives. But nature knows best. Spring may just be the ticket we need to free ourselves from spiritual stagnation.

Consider spending time in nature. Go to the park or botanic gardens. Or if you’re able, take a trip to a place where nature abounds. It could be just an hour’s drive outside the city or hop on a plane to someplace that inspires. Just don’t forget, your spirit needs space too. Perhaps you already live around nature and instead you need a cultural excursion. Do that! Take some time alone away from all the many things, people and ways we distract ourselves from checking in with what’s really going on with us. Tap in and address what you’re truly feeling in a meaningful way, follow your soul’s call and give it what it needs.

Clear, clean, cleanse and throw it away ~ all that does not serve your highest good. In-joy spring!

Come Bathe With Me

Speaking with a friend, I was surprised when she shared that she couldn’t remember the last time she’d taken a bath. She said that it had been years, that she only takes showers. I couldn’t imagine that. As a child living in the south, we didn’t have showers, we only had bathtubs. And when we moved to NY, I never wanted to take a bath again. I thought baths were passé and showers were cool and hip. But my mom would insist we take baths too. Perhaps that’s why as an adult I returned to the pleasure of bathing.

These days, showering seems to have replaced the bathing experience in most people’s lives. I wonder if it’s just a city thing? Urban dwellers tend to live more hectic lives and people believe they are too busy for baths. Lost is the concept that bathing is a very ancient remedy that would mitigate the stress of our modern lifestyles.  It’s a magically therapeutic experience. Many ancient cultures took bathing to its heights with luxurious public bath houses.

My friend admitted that one reason she didn’t take baths is that she didn’t like her tub. That certainly could be a deterrent, just as a beautiful tub beacons. Your average hotels will have tubs that are just meant to stand in for showering. But the hotel that it is encouraging its guests to bathe, to relax will typically have a stand-alone tub that is not connected with a shower; and I take full advantage of such a design.

I once stayed at the Hotel Nikko, a Japanese owned hotel. In addition to everything else that was absolutely exceptional and exquisite, they had a soaking tub, an ofuro. For those who are unfamiliar, a soaking tub is shorter and deeper than American made tubs. The impact is that the depth of the water slows down your heartbeat causing a deeper form of relaxation. It was a very special experience.

There have been many a moment when I’ve found myself standing in the shower, warm water spraying down on my body, and I realize how very  tired I am.  I then wonder why am I standing there, when I could be laying down, in a tub of warm, fragrant water?  And in some instances, I have just stopped and turned off the shower and ran a bath instead. I never regret doing that, switching gears for my well being. Laying down in warm to hot water is a far more relaxing experience than standing up in a shower. It naturally slows you down and gives you permission to lay back and unwind. Yet, many forgo this rejuvenating treat.  Water is healing, water renews, it is the elixir of life and it is my firm belief that every woman should sit in water and soak from time to time. The same goes for men. Everyone in the family can benefit from a bath, from babies to elders.

I am curious to know why aren’t people taking more baths? It seems with the level of stress that many are experiencing this would be a very accessible remedy. Please share with me your preference, shower or bath and why.  And of course I encourage to naturally enhance your bathing experience using Anu Essentials botanically based Body Care.  I do!

Anu Essentials Botanical Soaps