10 things my grandma knew before MindBodyGreen

walking with Grandma

Walking with Grandma from Sharon Lill

When I was little and we would visit my grandma, the smell of whatever food she was cooking was an immediate comfort.   In fact, to this day, when I make vegetable soup, the scent is like olfactory Xanax.  Grandmas are wise, we all know it.  They have home remedies, sayings and knowledge that get us through illness and heartache. Many of which we may not even realize we’ve adapted. Many of which are now scientifically proven.

There are a grillion websites and blogs right now that tout grandma’s natural remedies.  But, rather than indulge in reading the ’10 ways I’m destroying my body’ or ‘5 things I should stop doing right now’ articles that pervade my social media feed unsolicited, I tend to focus on the positive, and hearken back to what used to work for grams that has served me well.

Without further ado, here are 10 things my grandma knew all along (before scientific journals):

Drink a cup of warm water with lemon in the am.  She never got into the ayurvedic cleansing aspects of it, she just knew it was hydrating, got her digestive system working and cleared out her throat.

Use basic skin cream. The most expensive skin care line in the world is no substitute for a good diet, good hygiene and clean living.

Always carry Kleenex. I keep a packet in my purse in case of sneeze or to dry a friend’s tears.  Unlike grandma, my tissues aren’t tucked in the sleeve of my shirt or  in my  bra.

Always have a reserve of homemade soup in the freezer. You never know when your power is going to go out, or a sick friend could use a hand.  For me, I have tons Tupperware concoctions in the freezer. Who needs a preservative filled Lean Cuisine, when I can warm up a slice of homemade lasagne?

Eat real food.  As Michael Pollan said (who was quite possibly paraphrasing his own grandmother), “Eat Food. Mostly Plants.” There’s no substitute for homemade grub nutritionally or flavorfully (is that even a word.)  I’ve tried the trendy dietary things, but for the most part, my body likes it when I eat like an old Italian woman. The science on how eating a plant-based, unprocessed diet is infinite.

Love God. Whether it’s church, meditating, praying or going to a wiccan ritual, a spiritual practice is what brings us home. It’s what brings us peace.

Vinegar and borax clean just about anything. My grandmother used vinegar for everything — it was her ‘Windex’ (for those of you who have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding.) Nana would use vinegar to clean the counter, and in the next moment stick some on a my lip if I had a fever blister. 20 Mule Team Borax is another wonder substance with tons of uses

Chicken noodle soup cures a cold. There is science that has proven that chicken noodle soup actually helps stop the inflammation that comes with having a virus.  Google it.

Wrinkles merely indicate where smiles have been. This wasn’t exactly a saying of hers, but she had a little plaque with this saying on it, and it sticks with me to this day any time I see a sign of aging.

Family comes first. Whether it’s the family you were born with or one you’ve come to adopt, family will get you through anything. Treat your genetic and friend family with love, respect and loyalty. And you will be rewarded with the same.

These nuggets are actually stitchings of what two grandmas and my mom have taught me. There are dozens of habits I’ve picked up, and musings that regularly echo in my head from generations of wise women.

What did your mom or grandma pass along to you?


– Your Charmed Yogi

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Confessions from a germaphobic yogi

cartoon germs under microscope

As I’ve said before, no amount of sun salutations or meditation will change who you are, but rather allow you to accept ALL that you are without judgement or derision.  I accept all that I am, including my germicidal tendencies. My best friend and I joke about our shared quirk, what gives us the heebie jeebies and how to get past them.  It’s my mountain to climb, folks. I’ll meet you at base camp.

My ‘concern’ about germs started after I was hospitalized with a respiratory infection a decade ago.  And, thanks countless blogs and hidden camera television shows about ‘where germs lurk’, I’m pretty much a regular hand washer and microbe sheriff.  On a scale of 1 to Howard Hughes, I’d say I’m about a 6 or 7. I do what I can to stay healthy in a world of colds and flu.  That said, I find the Niyama ‘Saucha’ right up my alley.

A clean yogi is a Saucha yogi

Saucha is often translated to mean cleanliness, clarity, purity or even simplicity. Foundationally, saucha is concerned with keeping different energies distinct, and protects the sanctity of the energy around us.  Part of this has to do with the physical plane and how we treat our bodies and our surroundings. I think I’ve got this one down.

Day-to-day practice & teaching  

So what’s a germaphobic yogi to do? On a day to day basis, I exercise common sense mixed with ayurveda.  I shower everyday, use a neti pot to keep my sinus passages clean, I wash my hands before I eat, after I go to the bathroom, after I shake someone’s hand, stay home when I’m sick, and I keep my surroundings clean.  In my personal asana practice, I use incense to clear the air of negative energy, I practice pranayama to rid my lungs of toxins, I clean my mat, and I put away my props.

When I teach, I try to create a healthy environment free of germs. I protect myself and students by washing my hands between classes — particularly if I’ve done any hands-on adjusting. On a larger level, I encourage students to leave shoes by the door when they enter and to put away their props and leave the studio as clean as when they entered. P.S. I’m not alone in my quest for clean.  The blog, Vegan Cinephile did a post called, “Yoga Cooties: My favorite green cleaning products.”  You had me at cooties, VC.

Travel kit & survival tactics (think 

Ok, so we’ve got day to day covered, now here’s where it will either seem over the top or enlightening. Either way I’m arming you with ideas.  Travelling and public places are a whole other ball of ear wax. I don’t touch handles, particularly escalator handles. I flush public toilets with my feet,  I open bathroom doors with a paper towel, I use hand eco-friendly hand sanitizer and I’ve been known to bust out the Clorox green cleansing wipes to wipe down a cafeteria table.  Don’t get me started on the public pens we use to sign everything… Accept it. I have. Let’s put it this way, if you could see germs, you’d wash your hands.

Germaphobic Yogi’s Travel Kit Essentials

Hotels & airplanes propel us into yet another dimension of protection & safety. So, here’s what I take with me when I’m traveling and know I’ll be staying in a hotel (you’ll thank me later).

  • Clorox green wipes – You never know who was in the airplane seat or touching the hotel room remote before you.
  • Hand sanitizer – Self-explanatory.
  • Resealable plastic bags – Use these to store your shoes in a suitcase so you’re not transferring microbes to your clothes and toiletries. Plus you can seal up dirty laundry or any linens you brought from home.
  • Tissues – Keep your own germs to yourself.  Be the solution.
  • Allergy pillow protectors – I zip up hotel pillows with an allergen protecting cover and bring my own pillow cases.
  • Travel Lysol – I do spray down surfaces in case housekeeping wasn’t thorough.
  • Talcum powder – I’ve seen a variety of sources that suggest sprinkling talc as it acts like diatomaceous earth which bed bugs are resistant to.
  • Vitamin C, Echinacea &  Zinc – I do up my intake of vitamins prior to travel to give my immune system a boost.
  • iPhone white noise app – A good night’s sleep is key to staying healthy and hotel noise can be distracting.

Of course, I recognize the need to expose myself to bacteria so that I can build up a tolerance, which happens all the time (unless you truly live in a bubble), but that doesn’t mean I have to leave myself completely vulnerable. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to come face to face with one of your quirks and celebrate it.  We are who we are, warts and all. Happy cleansing.


– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Yelltale Blog)

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Your extraordinary life

arm with extraordinary tattoo

I love this post from Amber of My Crazy Healthy Life blog.  A beautiful story of transformation and a desire to help others embrace their ‘extraordinary-ness’ and live a wholesome life.

“Make your life extraordinary” has been my mantra for the past fourteen years. Somewhere in my late twenties, I realized that regular just doesn’t work for me–I want more out of life. And so began my quest to become extraordinarily healthy. I traded in my running shoes for a yoga mat, stopped eating meat, and learned how to meditate. My new life was anything but regular. It also made me stronger, healthier, and happier than I had ever been before. Read the full post.


– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: WeLoveIt)

Boost your immune system with Yoga & food

supported shoulderstand yoga pose

This past weekend, a I taught a 2-hour workshop to help my students get ready for fall allergies and cold & flu season with yoga. So, I thought I’d  share it here so you can prime your body for winter health. … Continue reading

Pamper yourself with reckless abandon

Source: google.ca via Willow on Pinterest

As yogis who are after more than just the physical practice of yoga, we are spiritual seekers.  As spiritual seekers, we are open to new ideas, concepts, and most definitely introspection.  As introspect-ors, we begin to examine ourselves under a microscope, study ancient texts, and try to make heads or tails out of this mortal coil.  As we dive into ancient spiritual texts, we learn that non-judgement, non-violence, suffering, and non-attachment as philosophical principles illuminate what might once have been darkness.

Many new yogis get so caught up in consciously adhering to what’s written, that they create a new kind of tension.    Rather than allowing the transformation to happen by meditating, and bringing awareness to our actions, we can quickly get caught up in a cycle of self-judgement for not being “the perfect yogi.”  Not to mention any added shifts in energy and selflessness you experience as a yoga teacher, reiki healer or yoga therapist. Continue reading

If you’re happy and you know it, just sit there

woman happy yoga

“You are already happy. The reason you don’t experience it is that it’s covered up by layers of suppressed emotions and negative thoughts. Shift your attention and your inherent happiness flashes forth.” – Steve Ross The other day, I had … Continue reading

Practice Your Yoga Like No One is Watching

Heart Chakra Opening YogaHave you ever experienced the most beautiful, rock steady tree pose (Vrkasana) or headstand at home only to feel like you’re trying to balance during an earthquake during class?

Many yoga students experience “stage fright” (for lack of a better term) in which the ego takes over and begins to place worth on whether or not we can hold a pose longer or deeper than someone else, or even get into the pose at all.   Our ego loves competition,  and often times it’s only with ourselves.

At home, we feel as if we’re in a safe judgement-free environment and we have the freedom to try anything without consequence or embarrassment if we “don’t do it right.”  But, there really is no” right,” and that safe place that we feel we have at home is actually always with us; within us. Continue reading

Light a fire under your asana & transform


Photo Credit: Amarha58 Flickr

Fire is transformative.  As a bolt of lightning, it has the power to turn sand into glass.  As the sun, it has the power to bring life through it’s warmth, and illuminate the darkness with its light.  As passion, and dedication to yoga practice, fire has the power to transform the body, mind and soul.

In Sanskrit the root of the word tapas is “tap”, meaning to heat, burn, purify.  In yoga, Tapas is one of the Niyamas, or observances of self-control, in the Yoga Sutras that refers to an austerity or strict discipline of practice.  Tapas is the burning zeal in practice that comes from the desire to purify the body and seek spiritual enlightenment.  A desire to transform. Continue reading