Taking Back Our Health With Teas, Tinctures & A Healthy Vegan Dinner

Taking Back Our Health With Teas, Tinctures & A Healthy Vegan Dinner

We will be holding a fun tasting of medicinal but, yummy teas and tinctures paired with an amazing vegan dinner by Viva Vegeria. Fred Garza is Chef and Founder of this amazing restaurant. He cares about his community, health and, eating foods which taste good but, are also healthy for us. 

Organic Herbs included in the class:
Hawthorne
Damiana
Cinnamon
Roses
Peach Leaves
Wild Cherry Bark
Passionflower

Come join this workshop, a wonderful vegan dinner and learn some new healthy recipes. We will also be making a Love Elixir for you to take home! We will be offering classes on a monthly basis with a different group of herbs. Contact Fred at www.myvegeria.com or the Viva vegeria Facebook page for tickets $32 

Herban Fun at the Haus Bar

Herban Fun at the Haus Bar

    I enjoyed my weekend herb class with other herb nerds from Sacred Journey School Of Herbalism at our visit to Haus Bar on the East side of Austin, TX. Haus Bar is an amazing truly sustainable urban farm who sells exclusively to restaurants in Austin. They have solar panels providing 90% of their electricity, rainwater collection and the are an Austin 5 star green home. They raise chickens, rabbits, lots of vegetables, and ducks. The donkeys are their playful lawnmowers. We had so much fun learning about edible weeds, composting and more.  

   I was inspired by Dorsey Barger and her way of running the farm truly sustainable . She uses no gas powered equipment, doesn't disturb the soil and uses all the compost made by the animals on site. She also spoke about eating her rabbits and chickens which she slaughters herself and treating the meat in a sacred way.  She and her partner are truly doing good work off the grid in East Austin. Thanks for sharing your farm with us!

The Tree of Life

IMG_2327.JPG

I recently completed the Level 3 of Aura Soma training which, is woven into the Tree of Life. Victoria Silks is an amazing teacher, artist and healer.  Her knowledge of the Kaballah, Aura Soma, and the Tree of Life is inspiring. 

 The Tree of Life is very interesting and ancient. The Tree of Life holds great wisdom to ones who wish to dig deeper . I am so grateful to have taken this course and trip with my friend who is also a healer.It was not only a learning trip but a Vision Quest as we ended up in places we never thought we would.  We ventured through New Mexico and Colorado and, everywhere we went was a healing experience. Starting off in Santa Fe the gorgeous mountain air fed my soul. I LOVE the smell of the desert.  We were blessed with great weather and somehow we always bumped into the Buddhist stupas and various holy people who were praying and chanting there. We even got to meet one of the Lamas which is not usually in New Mexico.  My favorite part of the trip was bathing in the beautiful hot springs and dipping in the cold river at the buddhist monastery in Jemez,Springs, which is called the heart of New Mexico.   I truly felt healing of the heart after having gone through a heartbreak and loss, as ,Im still licking my wounds. 

WE ventured off from the Land of Enchantment to the sand dunes in Colorado near one of the sacred mountains of the Dinai ,now called Santa Blanca but the natives call it 'Tsisnaasjini' - Dawn or White Shell Mountain. We were so taken by the dunes that I left my Aura Soma bottle named TRUST and, my friend left her phone on my car  bumper and we laughed as it bounced in the road due to our constant harvesting of sage on the trip. 

We saw our TEACHER , Shamaan Flying Eagle, who gave us amazing readings and healing, fun times with some good wine and good music. Well, due to being tipsy on wine,  Shamaan,  talked us into driving to Denver on the last day of our trip to enjoy the biggest gem and jewelry store in the world, where I purchased my Lemurian crystal and Chrysocolla which are both sitting by my bed when I sleep at night.  We didn't regret it even though it added another 6 hours to our trip both ways. I feel so grateful to have been able to take this trip and honor my higher self & trust my gut feeling to lead me where to go next. 

Traditional Plants as Energy Medicine Classes

Traditional Plants as Energy Medicine Classes

Luna is now offering a class series on traditional medicinal plants. Luna is offering a series of classes on traditional plants as medicine. We will experience the plants through our senses while exploring plant identification, medicinal and spiritual uses. Luna is an urban curandera influenced by her great grandmother, madre tierra and she formally studied in the Sacred Journey School of Herbalism with Ginger Webb, herbalist of 20+ years. Luna's passion is to help humans reconnect to plants and the natural world!

Classes held once a month on Thursdays 7-9pm May 19, June 16, July 14 and future dates to be announced.  Location given upon class registration. Please contact Luna Wood 512.445.0020 or luna@vidaluna.com to register. Cost $15-$20 sliding scale per class. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Holiday Natural Handcrafted Herbs & Bodycare Class

Holiday Natural Handcrafted Herbs & Bodycare Class

natural.jpg

Learn about different herbal remedies to use or gift this Holiday Season. We will be making Wild Cherry Bark Cough & Cold Cordial,  Bath Salts or Sugar scrubs with Essential oils and herbs, Herb Infused Vinegars, and Calendula lip balm or salve. Learn how to read labels and identify ingredients you DON'T want in your body care products. You will take home several items.   The class is at 6-9 pm on Saturday December 5. Luna is an herbalist and massage therapist inspired by her indigenous roots and lineage of curanderas.  Call Luna at 512.445.0020 for more details. Cost $25 to cover supplies and packaging  

Luna's New Move

Luna's New Move

IMG_6919.jpg

I HAVE BIG NEWS!!!!......

I relocated to San Antonio,Texas this September. I have been practicing healing, massage, birth services, and more, in Austin for 25 years. Sadly, this chapter has come to a close. My journey is now taking me to a new place. It's scary and exciting but, most of all, I will miss many of you who have supported me along the way.

It has been an honor to be a part of your healing path and, such an amazing community. The good news is, I will still be available a few days, once a month in Austin, TX at South Austin Massage on 3115 South 1st, Suite 104 and, I will be continuing to build a full time practice in San Antonio at 114 N.Ellison Dr. Suite 114. Make sure you call or book sessions online ahead of time since there will be limited spots available. I look forward to building a new community in San Antonio & I hope to see you soon!

Blessings, Luna

Medicinal Uses of Turmeric

Medicinal Uses of Turmeric

tumeric-root.jpg

Turmeric Curcuma longa Turmeric is a tropical perennial plant in the same family as ginger, native to India, and cultivated throughout the tropics around the world. Growing to a height of about three feet, it bears pairs of lance-shaped leaves on alternate sides of the stem. At the base of the stem, there is a knobby rhizome somewhat resembling ginger. Other common names are Indian saffron & yellow ginger.

Many of the healing of benefits of turmeric have been attributed to curcumin, a group of antioxidant compounds found in the rhizome. Although curcumin is available as a standardized extract, the whole herb may be more beneficial for you than the curcumin extract: Only very small amounts of curcumin are absorbed into the bloodstream. Turmeric as a whole herb stays in the digestive tract longer than curcumin, releasing antioxidant curcumin along with other beneficial substances.

Turmeric root powder is a popular ingredient in South Asian cooking and adds a distinct flavor to many savory dishes, including stocks, sauces and curries. The root has a brilliant orange color and becomes very hard when dried. It is distinct and fragrant, with a scent that is mildly hot and gingery, but certainly unique to itself.

Teas and poultices with fresh turmeric are commonly used for it's anti inflammatory and natural antibiotic properties. It can enhance longevity, decrease chances of Alzheimer's and cancer, soothe skin conditions and protect the liver.

Turmeric-Golden-Honey--600x399

Turmeric Honey Paste Recipe

Ingredients: 1 cup honey

1 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp turmeric powder

Mix honey, turmeric, & coconut oil together in a resealable container using a spoon until thoroughly combined. Cover and store in the refrigerator.  Add 1 tablespoon or more to a cup of hot water or milk (or milk substitute) for a lovely drink. Add lime, ginger, and cinnamon for a flavorful break from the usual tea. Always allow the paste to heat for at least 5 minutes in any of these before consuming.

Luna Wood is a graduate of the Sacred Journey School of Herbal Wisdom and  currently practices herbal medicine in Austin and San Antonio, TX.

 

 

Heart Chakra Herbs

Heart Chakra Herbs

heart-chakra.jpg

We live in a culture where we are bombarded with challenging situations everyday.  Violence, natural disasters, pollution, police brutality and the list goes on.... As a healer/curandera/sobada I feel it is my job to create a space where people can grieve, release suffering, and heal their hearts. I just recently went to see Amma, the hugging saint (I talk about her in one of my earlier blog posts) and received a wonderful hug and blessing with my life long partner and soul mate. People come from all over the world just to get a hug and receive a blessing, sometimes in the form of a hershey's kiss. Why do they come and wait in line for hours? Because we all yearn for the MOTHERLY DIVINE LOVE, and we need to heal our hearts.

Many of us feel empty, hopeless, or depleted and we need LOVE!!

There is hope for all of us through community, connection, and deep & fulfilling relationships. It is our responsibility to keep our hearts open, and spread healing for our children and their children. Amma teaches us to receive but more importantly to give SEVA or selfless service to others in little ways everyday. Being thoughtful of people is spreading "Love in the Little things." as a daily practice. Have you given freely today without expecting anything in return?

I just completed a 9 month Herbal Foundations training  with Ginger Webb, owner of Sacred Journey School of Herbalism. Through my training I worked with a number of herbs which are healing for the physical heart and the heart chakra. Some of my favorites are:

   HAWTHORN

hawthorn1Crataegus oxycantha is the most well-known herb for the heart. This member of the rose family has white to brownish flowers, deeply lobed and rose-like leaves, brown woody stems, and yellowish-brown to wine-red fruit which is oval, wrinkled, and berry-like with large seeds. The legends surrounding Hawthorn trees go back centuries – originating in the Pacific Northwest, Europe, British Isles & Asia.

Native Americans utilized many parts of this plant. Its strong wood was fashioned into digging sticks and handles for tools. The razor-sharp thorns were used for piercing ears, and making fish hooks. The bark and shoots were burned and mixed with ashes and grease to concoct black face paint for ritual purposes.

Hawthorn is a very useful botanical for the heart; the berry, leaf, flower, and stem are used for medicine. All of these can be transformed into tinctures, teas, or capsules. Fresh berries can also be used in pies, jams and jellies and dried berries in sauces, wines, syrups, and infused vinegars. Many clinical studies have been conducted on Hawthorn over the past 20 years with great promise.

The Hawthorn tree is a symbol of love and the union of couples in marriage, and is one of the sacred trees. Legend says if one was to bathe in the dew of Hawthorn leaves and blossoms, one"s luck, heath, and beauty was said to increase exponentially for the following year.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hawthorn berries may decrease high blood pressure and act as a direct and mild heart tonic. Hawthorn leaf and flower, like Hawthorn berries, are antispasmodic, cardiac, diuretic, sedative, tonic and vasodilator. Hawthorn leaf and flower can be used in a tea to reduce high blood pressure and support the heart. Leaf and flowers from the species of Hawthorn used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Crataegus sinaica) support the immune system.

Hawthorn is a long-term remedy and should be taken for several months to several years for maximum benefit. It as a superfood to the cardiovascular system.

Taken in excess, Hawthorn berry teas can cause mild diarrhea. This does not occur when the berries are used to make tinctures or are encapsulated. Diarrhea is not a side effect of the leaf and flowers.

WILD ROSES

wild-roses-from-the-largest

ROSA

Most people think of roses as lush and fragrant, with lots of petals. These are the ones that have been bred and domesticated from their stamens. Yes they are GMO!

The good news is we still have many varieties of organic wild roses. All true wild roses have beautiful pink, red white or yellow flowers with 5 petals, many stamens and orange to red pear shaped fruits . The crown of sepals that falls from the fruit is called the rose hip which is known to be high in vitamin C.

Wild Rose is medicine for the physiological heart and spiritual-emotional heart. Useful for trauma, sadness and grief, depression, anxiety, heartbreak. Heart-opening, and well known flower of love and devotion. Makes an excellent nervine- deeply calming and very fast-acting. Cardiovascular tonic, promoting proper vascular functioning, treating high blood pressure and poor circulation.

When and how to Harvest: Wild rose flowers are prized for their beauty, their scent and their medicine. The best time to harvest is when they are most eye catching – in spring to early summer when they have just opened and are very fragrant. You will see bees and other winged creatures lapping up their nectar and pollen. Whole flowers can be pinched off but I harvest mostly the petals so that the inner part can turn into fruit. Rose leaves and stems are also harvested for medicine and can be gathered in spring through early fall.

20110116-082355

Wild Rose Elixir by Kiva Rose 

1 pint jar

enough fresh wild rose petals to fill the jar

everclear or vodka/brandy to fill the jar 3/4 (I prefer a lower proof alcohol for this preparation, I might make a 50% solution with water and everclear) glycerine or raw honey to fill the jar 1/4 (I generally prefer glycerine for first aid purposes since it is less sticky, which leads to higher compliance in patients, honey tastes better though).

Internally, I use small amounts of the elixir just as most would use Rescue Remedy, for any trauma, panic, fear or stressful situation for child, adult or animal. It’s calming, pleasant and blood moving, helping to move someone out of a paralyzing shock or stuck emotion. It acts as a mild nervine, calming without sedating. I have met people though, who find it quite perception altering. And of course Wild Rose excels at opening the heart and restoring emotional equilibrium. It’s also a well known aphrodisiac, but we’ll leave those properties for a future post. It’s also anti-spasmodic and can be used externally or internally for mild to moderate cramps.

For a more relaxing remedy with greater anti-infective properties, make with half Wild Rose petals and half Wild Rose hips (with seeds intact). This preparation is an especially good heart tonic (like its close relative, Hawthorn) and arthritis remedy when used in the long term. The hips are also effectively anti-viral (like their OTHER close relative Raspberry).

Luna Wood , herbalist & massage therapist, makes many of these fresh herbal tinctures available for purchase at her studio at South Congress Massage.

Holy Basil- Tulsi

Holy Basil- Tulsi

IMG_1899.jpg

Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is an herb native to India, where it is known as tulsi. and is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an “adaptogen” . An adaptogen is a unique group of herbs which are known for assisting with everything from stress to fatigue, and they help the body to adapt on many levels while building the immune system.  The Hindu name for holy basil, Tulsi, means "the incomparable one." Medicine is made from the leaves, stems, and seeds. Holy Basil is sacred in the Hindu religious tradition and is regarded as one of the most important plants used in Ayurvedic medicine. If you go to India, you will see holy basil growing everywhere around Hindu temples. It comes in red and green varieties, both with a strong, pleasant aroma. More clove-like than that of culinary basil, holy basil has been used for centuries to treat a variety of medical conditions including high blood pressure, insomnia, asthma, bronchitis, arthritis and eye disorders. Holy basil is also used for the common cold,  flu, diabetes, bronchitis, earache, headache, stomach upset, heart disease, fever, viral hepatitis, malaria, stress, and tuberculosis. It is also used for mercury poisoning, to promote longevity, as a mosquito repellent, and to counteract scorpion bites.

One study, published in 1991 in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, compared holy basil to Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and found that holy basil was the most potent anti-stress agent of the three. Holy basil is well know as a treatment for reducing both stress and elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and to promote physical and emotional endurance. Using holy basil along with breathing exercises and regular aerobic exercise can  help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.

Organic holy basil is now available at Luna's studio at South Congress Massage. Please consult with your health care practitioner before adding new herbs to your diet. 

Valentine's Herbs

Valentine's Herbs

image5.jpg

There are various herbs which can be used for sexual health or as herbal aphrodisiacs. The ones listed here can be found in the Southwest region of North America or are readily available at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Damiana is a small shrub with aromatic leaves found on dry, sunny, rocky hillsides in south Texas, Southern California, Mexico, and Central America. Damiana leaves have been used as an aphrodisiac and to boost sexual potency by the native peoples of Mexico, including the Mayan Indians. The two species used in herbal healing, both of which are referred to as damiana, are Turnera aphrodisiaca and Turnera diffusa and are part of the passionflower family. 

Historically damiana has been used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and mild depression, especially if these symptoms have a sexual component. Damiana has also been traditionally used for increased energy, asthma, depression, impotence, digestion, and menstrual problems. In large doses it is thought to have a mild laxative effect.

image

Damiana Rose Elixir 

2oz Damiana leaves

10 oz brandy

1/2 oz roses

5oz honey

Add Damiana , brandy & roses to a mason jar. Let steep for 4 weeks . Strain and add honey. Mix well and enjoy!

 

Muira Puama is one of the most active botanicals with a long history of traditional uses as an energy tonic, general health improver, and remedy for impotence & sexual insufficiency. It originated in the Amazon rainforest and is  known as "potent wood" . Many people now consider it the new Yohimbe but, with considerably less possible side effects. Amazon natives have known this plant for centuries, as this herb has been widely used as an aphrodisiac by both men and women.

Muira Puama

The short term effects of Muira Puama include increasing blood flow to the pelvic area, aiding erections in men as well as sensation and orgasm in women. Longer term use enhances the production of sex hormones in both sexes. It has no noted side effects though, as with many sexual stimulants, it can slightly raise blood pressure.

Muira Puama has also been used for stress management, nervous system stimulation, and for general overall health. It has been used to tonify the nervous system and to treat cases of mild exhaustion. It can also help with gastrointestinal and reproductive disorders, while it's anti-rheumatic properties have been used for treating stress and trauma.

Vanilla bean extract

Vanilla planifolia

Vanilla originated in Mexico and is presently found in South America and the West Indies. Vanilla is a member of the orchid family . It has aerial roots that cling to trees and, the  pods are the fruit of the plant. Vanilla is currently hand pollenated since it has moved regions. It increases blood flow to sex organs, increases arousal, and releases tension in muscles and tissues. Vanilla tincture is a great sexual elixir since, it is stimulating and relaxing

Vanilla Tincture

5-7 vanilla beans

1 cup brandy or rum,

split vanilla beans (making sure the seeds make contact with alcohol)

add vanilla beans & alcohol to a mason jar & Steep for 6-8 wks

Strain and enjoy

 

Ocotillo -Fouquieraceae ocotillo family-fouquiera splendins

This succulent herb is also called coach whip, vine cactus, slimwood, candlewood, and flamingsword. It is a very beautiful and unusual plant. Ocotillo is slow growing, and it can take up to 30 years to grow to its maximum height of about 20 feet. Its growth is upright, radiating out from a central root.

Ocotillo usually flowers in March, April and May after heavy rains. Dark, gray green leaves will appear along its spiny, thorny stems within days after a rain fall, but once the weather drys out the leaves will turn brown and fall off. The flowers are beautiful scarlet red tubers appearing at the tip of the branches. These flowers attract hummingbirds, bats and orioles.

Ocotillo

Ocotillo has a long history of use among many native Americans. The Cahuilla Indians used its flowers to make a summer drink and its seeds were pounded into a flour to make cakes. The Hualapai used the powdered roots in a footbath for swollen feet and the fibers of the plant to build huts. The Papago would press the nectar out of the blossom and allow it to dry into a candylike treat. The Apache Indians often used the reddish orange blossom, fresh or dried in a tea, which aided in the relief of sore and swollen muscles. The seeds and flowers were also eaten raw in various dishes.

A tincture made of fresh bark is useful for eliminating symptoms associated with inflammation of the pelvic region. Ocotillo can also be effective in alleviating hemorrhoids,  prostate enlargements, and ovarian and uterine cysts.

Harvesting Ocotillo for medicinal use is a challenge. Wear thick gloves and take no more than a two foot section from older plants. It should saw or cut off fairly easily and then cut it into smaller, more workable pieces. Be careful of thorns while working with this plant, and separate the outer bark from the inner core.

Luna Wood , herbalist & massage therapist,  makes many of these fresh  herbal tinctures available for purchase at her studio at South Congress Massage.

Winter Solstice Essentials

Winter Solstice Essentials

image3.jpg

The first day of winter is here! Sometimes winter can bring compromised immune systems, common colds and seasonal depression. Here are a few healing herbs and vitamins that can keep you healthy this Winter. Mushrooms have incredible medicinal properties. In fact, an estimated 38,000 species of mushrooms, provide a wealth of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin C, as well as calcium and other minerals. Two species have demonstrated phenomenal healing potential: maitake and reishi. These medicinal mushrooms have been shown to boost heart health; lower the risk of cancer,; promote immune function; ward off viruses, bacteria, and fungi; reduce inflammation; combat allergies; help balance blood sugar levels; and support the body's detoxification mechanisms.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), commonly known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, is a herbal mushroom known to have miraculous health benefits. Reishi is an Immunomodulator and regulates and fine tunes the immune system. Preliminary evidence suggests that reishi mushrooms may have antiviral benefits. They contain polysaccharides, which have been reported to inhibit direct effects on the influenza virus.

Reishi Mushroom

Maitake mushroom

Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) also known as "Hen of the Woods", since its frond-like growths resemble the feathers of a fluffed chicken. Maitake is a medicinal mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of decaying trees, particularly oaks. The fungus is native to the northeastern part of Japan and North America, and is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as a medicinal mushroom, an aid to balance out altered body systems to a normal level. It is widely eaten in Japan, and its popularity in western cuisine is growing.

It tastes wonderful and can be used in cooking, whenever you want to give your family a health boost. This would be especially good during cold and flu season.It is thought to be the most powerful mushroom as far as strengthening the immune system. The glucans and polysaccharides in it stimulate the immune system by increasing the activity of the T-helper cells. It is also highly used by cancer patients today.

Elderberry

Elderflowers

 

Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) & Elderflower

Elderberries have been a folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. Elderberry is used for its antioxidant properties, to boost the immune system, and for coughs, colds, flu, hay fever, bacterial and viral infections, and tonsillitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. People with the flu who took elderberry juice reported less severe symptoms and felt better much faster than those who did not. Elderberries must be boiled thoroughly or they can be considered poisonous.

Elderflowers are also used for their health benefits as well as elderberries. Elderflowers come from the Elder tree. The Elder has been called the ‘medicine chest of the people’ due to the remedies that can be made with either its leaves, bark, flowers or fruit to treat many common complaints. It is reported by herbalists that dried elderflowers when combined with dried yarrow and peppermint to make a tea is effective to use when you have a cold or influenza. The elderflower lowers fever, reduces inflammation, and soothes irritation.

Echinacea-(Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purprea) This herb works wonderfully for colds and flu. Drinking a tea made from echinacea can greatly reduce the severity and duration of these two illnesses. It’s also widely used for treating upper respiratory infections and sore throat. It’s also an effective anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibiotic. Millions of people have used it to boost the immune system to help fight off viral, fungal and bacterial infections. It can reduce inflammation, destroy free radicals and increase white blood cells. Echinacea can also build resistance to respiratory and digestive infections. It is often used to treat infections of the respiratory system and sinusitis.

This special herb can help keep the glands clean and in good working order. For this reason, it can be used to treat prostate troubles, tonsillitis, swollen lymph glands, strep throat and even ear infections.

Echinacea

Echinacea isn’t the type of herb you take every day. You can start taking it at the first sign of illness. Most people use it like they would an antibiotic, just when needed.

Vitamin D

It has been proven in modern science that the lack of vitamin D, can lead to illnesses disease and even cancer. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and other minerals which help reduce colds, flu, and many other infectious diseases. With the stripping of our modern diet's minerals and lack of exposure to sunlight in the winter months. It's imperative we take a vitamin D supplement.  Vitamin D drops are the easiest to absorb.

You can find all of these essential organic herbs and vitamins at Luna's studio at South Congress Massage. Don't forget to stock up for the winter!

Talking to Trees

Talking to Trees

image3.jpg

I come from a lineage of traditional healers and medicine women of the-Panamanian, Cuna tribe. My great grandmother was a curandera and she worked with plants and prayers. My first memories of talking to plants and preparing food in a very sacred way were with her. I was there with her when she passed away and remember giving her permission to leave the earth. She gave me the gifts of healing and " listening "abilities in the dream, plant and spirit world. I'm  currently enrolled in the Sacred Journey School of Herbal Wisdom and I'm noticing my awakening to the plants talking to me. I always spoke and listened to the plants and animals, as a young child, but it seems they are showing themselves to me even more than before. My awareness of them is more keen and fine tuned.

I took a trip to the Redwoods last summer and felt the strong energy and ancestors of the Big Sur area. It was a profound, peaceful and spiritual experience!

I recently learned about Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) elixir, which is Redwood leaves and bark infused in brandy and honey. This is a very sacred medicine since the Redwoods are endangered. It is not respectful to wildcraft a lot of this medicine. If you are wildcrafting Redwoods only use small amounts of the tips and younger limbs and always ask permission of the tree.

My herbalist teacher had some elixir and my son and I tasted it and it brought us back to that feeling of being in the Redwoods. The Redwood roots run very shallow but wide in the soil covering much of the topsoil and connecting with other Redwoods. The messages they give us is community, strength, patience, and an ancient connection to our ancestors.

In the Texas region we have Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) trees which are the closest thing to the Redwoods we have. I decided to make some medicine with the cypress tree since they are so prevalent in Austin. It is recommended to harvest these in the spring but, I am experimenting!

I collected tips, small limbs, leaves and nuts from these trees. They really wanted me to use them for medicine. It was a rainy day and they were begging me to take them, so I took that as a good sign. I burned sage, played music and prayed over them as, I chopped up the bark, leaves nuts and infused them in a mason jar with brandy and Quartz crystals for clarity. It is a beautiful ceremony every time I am honored to make medicine. I will leave the infusions in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks and then I will add local honey for a yummy cypress elixir. This medicine is good for any kinds of internal or external bleeding, lung conditions, hemorrhoids, asthma and, bladder infections. I look forward to seeing where the medicine takes  me when it's done brewing!

 

Cypress tree in Austin Cypress preparation

The Beauty of Healing

The Beauty of Healing

image4.jpg

I just completed my fourth level of Advanced Lymphatic Drainage through, the Chikly Institute and it was amazing. I am such an anatomy nerd. I love to learn all the nooks and crannies of the body. The condyles, epicondyles, fossa, sutures, cerebrospinal spinal fluids, lymph and more. Our bodies are a fascinating temple of divine evolution and, it just amazes me how the body ALWAYS has the INFINITE knowledge and wisdom to heal itself! I have always been an intuitive healer. I feel things with my hands, chakras, and energies. I used to think it wasn't necessary to know the anatomy in great detail to be a good body worker, however the more I learn about the body, the more I crave this deep knowledge. There is a delicate balance between science and intuition. After being a body worker for over 25 years, I am finally learning the melding of the two and, the importance of both. Science without intuition is limited to rigid structures without feeling, and intuition with out really knowing what structures lie underneath our hands leave us guessing. This isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes as healers we won't know everything and that's ok. The body will still heal. However the difference between a good therapist and a great therapist is anatomy and intuition or, the ability to tune in and feel.

I am blessed to be able to live my passion and help people heal everyday in my practice. It keeps me excited and curious as, I unfold in my learning process. My clients have been excited about getting to feel " new " techniques on a deeper level. They are asking questions about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. I love it that my clients take an active role in participation in their healing. It shows they don't want me to "just fix" them and, they want to be co-creative in the healing process.

In the past few years I have been taking courses on Lymphatic Drainage Therapy (moving lymph and, releasing toxins from the lymph system, to be filtered into the bloodstream and vascular organs) and, Biodynamic Cranial-Sacral Therapy (working with the sutures and bones of the cranium and, the delicate rhythm of cerebral spinal fluid, through the brain and spinal cord, in a physical and energetic manner).

I feel truly honored to be invited to the delicate lymph around the pericardium of the heart or, deep into the intricate ventricles of someone's brain. It is truly a privilege to dive deeply into someone's body, mind, and, spirit. I do not take my job lightly, and I claim a huge responsibility of making sacred space for people to heal and, be heard. Whether they are coming to help their dyslexia, Chron's disease, chronic pain, or they just need some relaxation. I treat everyone as the beautiful child of God they are, and see them in their innocent child-like state, when they are on my treatment table. They are giving their trust to me fully, and I honor the courage they have to bring this vulnerability to my presence.

As I continue in my journey of healing I am presently beginning an eight month Native Plants and Herbal Intensive with Texas based herbalist, Ginger Webb. I am excited about continuing my education in the plant world and, can't wait to see what lies around the corner and, how I can use it to make my healing practice even better.

Read more info on Lymphatic Drainage Therapy at Chikly Institute, Cranial Sacral Therapy at Ryan Halford's Cranioschool, or Ginger Webb and her Sacred Journey School of Herbal Wisdom www.sacredjourneyschool.com.

Back to School Serenity

Back to School Serenity

image.jpg

Ready,set, go.......!!!! Back to school feels like a marathon sending everyone off on a wild goose chase for new backpacks, lunch boxes, and school supplies. Summer is for SLOWING DOWN!!!!!!! But how do we keep that slow pace all school year with homework and extracurricular activities? Keep our daily activities SLLLLOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!! I'm trying a new thing with my high schooler this year. We spend 5 minutes meditating and praying in the car on the way to school. This is as simple as an OHM and a prayer, and an OHM and a prayer, and so on for 5 minutes. At first he was rolling his eyes, because he wanted to listen to the dumb comedy show on the radio, and I wanted to pray and meditate all the way to school, so this was a great compromise! It's very centering and relaxing and gives us a good start to our day. It keeps us present in the moment and not stressed or worried about traffic. We both find it very soothing, and it makes us feel like we are doing something good for the world and ourselves. Hopefully he will reflect upon and even use this practice in his adult years. He's actually enjoying it now!

After we have some laughs from the radio show and I drop him off at school, I have found it helpful to do my workout at the YMCA, or I walk 3 miles around the lake. This way I can keep my mindful pace going. I continue with my prayers and chanting or, I just take a moment to enjoy nature and be fully present in the environment.

I'm finding more families are taking a month, 6 weeks or even the whole summer to vacation and take time to really be present with their kids with no agendas or hectic schedules. Not everyone can afford to do this every summer but there are some creative ways to make it work financially. Since I am a massage therapist. I can practice my profession anywhere and, I can get referrals in different areas of the country.

Some people can work from home. This year I could only take a week off with my family. My partner works for the city and can only get so much time off. We traveled to the west coast and, the most amazing times together were when we played in nature and did absolutely nothing! It was wonderful! My son just loved watching the windsurfers and it was a magical moment of being present together.

If your family cannot afford a vacation you can always have a staycation and turn off phones and TVs and pitch a tent in the back yard or, go to a public park for the weekend to camp out and unplug. There are lots of creative ways to slow things down and enjoy great conversation and good times with your family without distractions.

My teenager didn't have a handheld device or technology for the whole week of our vacation and he didn't even think about it. He actually gets the concept of unplugging and enjoys it! If you have more insights on making back to school more serene and less hectic I would love to hear them! Good luck!

Amma means Mother in Several Languages

Amma means Mother in Several Languages

image1.jpg

I recently went to see Amma with a few of my close friends and family. If you haven't seen Amma you don't know what you are missing. Here is a brief synopsis of who she is and how she began: "Amma was born in a remote coastal village in Kerala, South India in 1953.

Even as a small girl, she drew attention with the many hours she spent in deep meditation on the seashore. She also composed devotional songs and could often be seen singing to the divine with heartfelt emotion. Despite her tender age, her compositions revealed remarkable depth and wisdom.

When Amma was nine years old, her mother became ill, and Amma was withdrawn from school in order to help with household tasks and the care of her seven siblings. As she went door-to-door gathering food scraps from neighbors for her family’s cows, she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering that existed in her community, and in the world beyond it.

Where Amma encountered people in need, she brought them food and clothing from her own home. She was undeterred by the scolding and punishment she received from her family for doing so. Amma also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. Responding to her affectionate care, they began to call her Amma (Mother).

Amma was deeply affected by the profound suffering she witnessed. According to Hinduism, the suffering of the individual is due to his or her own karma — the results of actions performed in the past. Amma accepted this concept, but she refused to accept it as a justification for inaction. Amma contemplated the principle of karma until she revealed an even more profound truth, asking a question she continues to ask each of us today. “If it is one man’s karma to suffer, isn’t it our dharma (duty) to help ease his suffering and pain?”

With this simple yet profound conviction — that each of us has a responsibility to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate — Amma moved forward with confidence in her life of service and compassionate care for all beings, uniquely expressed by the motherly embrace she offers to all who seek solace in her arms.

In Amma’s community, however, it was not permissible for a 14-year-old girl to touch others, especially men. Amma explains, "In India, women are expected to remain in the background. It is said that 'Even the walls should not hear them.' My family could not understand my way of reaching out to people; they had no idea of the spiritual principles."

But despite adverse reactions, Amma followed her heart, later explaining, “A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering.”

Amma says that love expressed is compassion, and compassion means accepting the needs and sorrows of others as one's own."

I had my first hug from Amma 20 years ago. I felt a strong, loving  presence and a blissful peace. Every time I've hugged her since then it has been a different experience.  Since the first time I met her I have felt her presence and connection. I received a mantra from her 2 years ago and I chant my mantra every day . This is a prayer she gives you to repeat 109 times a day.  It has kept my heart open and cleared my mind and spirit every morning.

Your experience may be totally different than mine when you receive a hug but, the most important lesson Amma has taught me is we are all children of the earth. When I am in her embrace I feel the vulnerability of being an innocent child.

I was recently at a biodynamic cranial sacral class and we all spoke about our clients becoming little babies on the table. At some point as a body worker your client becomes a child and you become the mother or the caretaker. Sometimes we didn't get our needs met as a child and we will get them met on the massage table or in other healing settings.

This was an interesting observation being the child on the table and remembering the embrace of Amma. We are all innocent children of the divine and are all trying to get back to that place. We are all innately good!

Learn more about Amma at EmbracingTheWorld.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luna Featured on Baby Proofed Parents

Luna Featured on Baby Proofed Parents

image.jpg

Meet Luna Wood.  Luna is a Nationally Licensed Massage Therapist and Birth Journey Facilitator with over 20 years of experience.  She trained through DONA (Doulas of North America) and ALACE (Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators), and is currently a Certified Massage Doula graduating from the advanced six month Massage Doula program at the Star Institute. She has taught various programs at the Star Institute & Austin School of Massage and has 13 years of experience as an instructor specializing in pregnancy and childbirth. She currently has a thriving practice at South Congress Massage.  If I’d known Luna during my pregnancies, you couldn’t have pried me off her massage table.  She is a gifted, genuine, vibrant woman, and we are honored to feature her wisdom!

BPP: You were a doula for years, and then transitioned to massage therapy.  What drew you to changing your career direction?

LW: I LOVE attending births and I still attend 1-2 a year, however, it has become a challenge to be on call around the clock.  My son is 13, and he is involved in many extra-curricular activities.  I also love to travel, and when you attend births you are unable to do so.  As a busy parent, I find massage easier to schedule, and my day is over earlier, so I can have quality family time.  I also find massage to be relaxing for me as a practitioner.  Every session is a meditation for me.  I get to focus on that person and be completely in the moment.  When I’m on vacation I miss the ritual of my massage practice.  It’s a wonderful way to pace my day and really connect with people in a healing space.

BPP:  Describe what a pregnant mom would experience in a prenatal massage.

LW:  Prenatal massage is so relaxing for mama and baby.  I treat it as two people who want to be in harmony together.  Massaging pregnant women is my favorite because moms are so open to education and feedback, and sometimes just need a listening ear.  I feel privileged to work with pregnant women. Prenatal massage is so important for the mother’s circulatory system, adrenals, hormones and joints, but equally as important for emotional and spiritual connection.  It’s my goal to help the pregnant mama and baby leave my studio feeling fully nurtured and supported mentally, physically and spiritually.

image

BPP:  What do you focus on when providing massage to a brand new mom?

LW:  Many times new moms need education and information.  Most of the time, I find they need an open ear to LISTEN.  First time mothers are saturated with information from the internet.  Information overload is not helpful.  Many times we just need to process the journey of pregnancy and parenting.  I ask my clients to read books with interesting pregnancy stories or ask them to do artwork, or go hang out in nature.  The brain needs a break so we can be fully present with our growing babies.

BPP:  As a parent, how have you personally worked to obtaining good work and personal life balance?

LW:  I receive massages or another form of bodywork at least once a week.  When I was pregnant with my son 13 years ago I was attending births and practicing massage.  I was forced to slow down when my blood pressure rose from doing too much.  I learned a valuable lesson about self care.  Being pregnant made me more aware of the foods I was eating, and helped me make sure I rested well.  I also practiced prenatal yoga and swam at Deep Eddy Pool everyday.  When my son was born, I made an agreement with myself that I would not go longer than a month without receiving massage or other types of bodywork, and I’ve stuck to it.  Massage is not a form of pampering.  It is preventative care.

BPP:  What benefits could dads/parenting partners get from massage?

LW:  I always remind dads and partners that they are pregnant too!  Just because they are not physically carrying the baby, they ARE carrying the baby energetically and emotionally.  Fathers/partners feel lots of financial and emotional pressures when their partner is expecting.  They nest and prepare just like their partner.  It is important that they receive self care as well.  They don’t want to work and burn out before the baby even gets here.  They need to show up to childbirth and baby care classes, not to mention the birth, with a full tank.  Partners need to model self care, because they will be going through sleep deprivation, fastening car seats and changing diapers soon enough.  Self care should be a good habit that gets started from the beginning of the pregnancy, because once the first child is born, time is such a luxury!   If you make your appointments for massage, take your hot baths, or go for a run regularly it will be easier to keep your good habits once the baby is here.

BPP:  What is your favorite part of working with expectant moms?

LW:  I love that moms do their homework.  What does this mean?  If you ask them to do a breath work technique, drink lots of water, practice some pelvic rocks, sit on the exercise ball, work with visualization, and get massage and bodywork, they actually do it!  They are wonderful clients because they are not only looking out for their best interest but alsol the interest of the baby.  I also love working with babies.  It’s like doing infant massage before they are even born.  I turn the mom on her left side, then her right, and by the time I get to the belly the baby is usually all nestled in and relaxed.  Sometimes if I’m lucky, I will feel a little kick or nudge of enjoyment.  This gives me great joy to share such a beautiful experience with this new soul.  I’m not thinking about my grocery list or what I did yesterday.  I’m RIGHT THERE IN THAT MOMENT!  There is nothing else quite like that moment with that little one and her mama.

BPP:  In your experience, what mental/emotional blocks do expectant moms have to self-care (such as regular massage therapy), and what is your response to those blocks?

LW:  What I find most about moms is that they feel guilty for taking time or money for self care (massage, acupuncture,  yoga class, nutritional support).  I often hear that massage is a luxury, and I often reply, ” No, it’s preventative medicine and it would be wonderful if our health care paid for it!”  In our culture it’s ok to spend money on a new haircut, highlights or a pedicure, but not on our body and health. Time also becomes a luxury in a growing family.  We can not be sane parents without some time for ourselves. It is imperative that we create this in our lives.  Even as a single parent, I made time to have self care while my son’s godmother was at my home or when he was in preschool.  As moms we have to put ourselves first because no one else is going to.

BPP: If you had to give one sanity-saving tip to new parents, what would it be?

LW:  Take naps, get massages, do yoga (even if it’s only 5 min on the floor) and take some time to meditate.  I have made a point to take at least five minutes of meditation before I get out of bed in the morning and jump into my day.  Good habits will take you a long way and keep you sane.

Thank you Luna for your hands on support and nurturing for babies and moms. We appreciate your loving work, and your firm stance on massage being a preventative health benefit, not a luxury. That's how we feel about all forms of self care!

Cheryl & Kirsten

Visit www.babyproofedparents.com created by Cheryl Sipkowski & Kirsten Brunner, two moms and counselors of 16 years experience determined to deliver the best in parenting resources and sanity support.

Om Shanti Yoga Retreat with Jogi Bhagat

Om Shanti Yoga Retreat with Jogi Bhagat

3.jpg

I am so proud to have a friend and teacher like Jogi Bhagat. I met him over 5 years ago at the YMCA in Buda, where he was teaching Yoga. I went to my first class and thought, " What a wonderful teacher! I feel AMAZING!!!! " I continued to attend his classes and every time class ended, I was in a total state of BLISS! Jogi teaches gentle yoga and has all ages in his class. He is very conscientious of every student. My 13 year old son even attended a few times. It isn't just the yoga poses that make his class magical. It is the spiritual connection Jogi has with his students. Anyone can do yoga, but Jogi is very intentional with his energy. Jogi often spoke of his travels to India. He visits there every year to see his family, and practices yoga and meditation at a retreat. Listening to his travels peaked my interest. I always had a desire to travel to India. Little did I know I would travel to India with him in 2012. My trip to India was incredible. We visited the Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi, Rishikesh and more... It was a life changing experience. Jogi's family was so warm and proud to share their native country with us.

After attending his yoga class for several years, Jogi invited me to the Om Shanti Yoga Retreat. He decided to organize a retreat for people who could not travel to India but, wanted to enjoy a peaceful place away from the chaos and noise of the city. When I attended in the past, I met such wonderful people, ate incredible vegetarian food, and practiced various kinds of yoga.

I just participated in his retreat last weekend. I was acting as both a participant and a practitioner. It was wonderful doing massage with the participants because, I got to get to know people on an intimate level. I felt so connected to each of them and could share in their life experiences. Jogi also invited many guest speakers to talk about spiritual interests and, an internationally acclaimed dancer, Anurahda Naimpally from Austin Dance India to perform traditional Indian dance. I highly recommend attending the Om Shanti Retreat next year! It is a magical experience and Jogi makes everyone feel welcome and wanted.

Jogi Bhagat practices yoga in various locations in Austin,TX and offers a Spiritual India Trip, and the Om Shanti Yoga retreat annually. For more information about Jogi visit www.medicinalyoga.com or his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Yogasolutions.

2014- Start of the Year Juicing & Detoxing

2014- Start of the Year Juicing & Detoxing

image.jpg

I am starting the year off right with a juice cleanse.After the holiday travel and eating a bunch of yummy yet, not the healthiest food. I decided to get my health back in priority and drink some juices. Fast, cleanse whatever you want to call it, I am doing 1 week of a true juice fast and 2 months of vegan organic eating. I am also increasing my exercise routine and I am feeling more energy immediately. I lost 5 pounds in the first week. I am doing this for wellness but it always feels great when weight comes off as a bonus. I've been walking my dogs everyday and enjoying nature which goes hand in hand with cleansing. I notice nature more when I'm eating more plant based foods and less animal and processed products. I feel so blessed to be able to afford Skinny Limits as my juice fix. I love to juice my own but I hate to clean my juicer and I'm saving a lot of time I don't have.

I'm using my friend's o3 products in areas of lymph tissue to release any toxins and impurities . I feel like a new woman and ready for new beginnings in 2014.

If you want more information about juicing and detoxing visit www.skinnylimits.com and www.o3skincare.com.image

don Miguel Ruiz & Sons

don miguel don miguesons donjose We ( me and my loving partner), recently went to see don Miguel Ruiz and his sons, don Jose Ruiz and don Miguel Ruiz Jr. For those of you who don't know his work, don Miguel Ruiz is famous for his book, The Four Agreements. Oprah loved this book and placed it on her favorites list.

The Four Agreements include:

1. Be impeccable with your word.

2. Don't take things personally.

3. Don't make assumptions.

4. Always do your best.

My 13 year old  boy is reading this book at the moment. He's doing writing exercises and examples about each agreement. It's been quite a teaching and learning moment for both of us. These agreements encompass the question Who am I?  They also allow the reader to explore integrity, honesty, and self acceptance. This is a book you can read over and over and get different themes every time.  A must read for everyone who wants to know themselves on a deeper level.

 

We were blessed to see  all 3 of the Ruiz men together which doesn't happen often! We were impressed by the generational stories of their beautiful family. My son would have been a little bored by asking the question WHO AM I ? for 2 hours so he opted out of the evening. However, I regretted that he wasn't there because I was so moved by the way these beautiful mexican men openly loved each other in front of everyone, with NO SHAME. They cried and laughed with tears of joy and sadness for each other.  They tenderly hugged and kissed each other, and LOVE just oozed from their pores. Jose talked about when his father had a heart attack and how upset he was to almost lose him. He also spoke about how his father would always call him to come to tour with him. He said " No Papa! You are going to force me to speak in front of all those people." don Miguel said, " No Jose. I'm not going to do that to you." As soon as Jose comes to visit him don Miguel pushes him to speak in front of hundreds of people.  Jose said that was his first out of body experience. This changed Jose and he decided he had stories to tell  also but, in a different flavor than his father. don Miguel Jr. told beautiful stories about his mother and grandmother and the  rich roots of their Toltec heritage. He talked about his connection with his brother and father and how grateful he is to have been born to such beautiful souls. There is nothing like seeing men openly loving each other in a pure and genuine way.

 

I was so impressed with how don Miguel supported each of his children to honor their own unique gifts." Our spiritual paths look different from your neighbor. That's what makes us special. " There were lots of words spoken in 2 hours by all 3 men but what I REALLY felt was the  GOOD ENERGY rising in the room. By the end of the evening I was in the "zone. " I felt tired but it was more that sleepy. I was in an altered state and so was my partner. ( I'm glad I was driving. LOL)

 

When my son is a little older I hope he will have the chance to experience being in these Ruiz's presence. As a Latino (panamanian,puerto-rican,jamaican, gringo) young man , he is always faced with the threat of violence when he shows his vulnerable side. I am proud that he has a bromance with his best friend and isn't afraid to be close and loving to his bestie. I want him to see more models of men being close and loving with each other. I recommend  that every man go see don Miguel and his sons while he is still here on the planet. It is an experience you will cherish and never forget. I am reading the Fifth Agreement now so stay tuned for the next blog post......

Women's Self Care Spirit Retreat

028foots womens retreat sacred herbs relax la'arni medi foot handWe had an amazing time at the Women's Self Care Spirit Retreat! I  was inspired by everyone who came to my home to share in the sacred circle. My house felt blessed by the hand massages, herbal foot baths and the herb walk in the back yard. I am inspired to create this powerful space of women more often. I was recharged and renewed.  Thanks to everyone who made this day so sweet and blessed!! Let's do it again soon!