Thursday, September 13

Five Actions for the Approaching Change of Seasons

by Meta Hirschl

We are beginning to feel and sense the change of seasons even when we sometimes still feel the heat of the day. Ah, change, that inevitable constant in life.

The yoga tradition, along with the sister science of Ayurveda, teaches us that we are not separate from the natural world, but instead we are deeply connected with the outer world. For radiant health we can prepare the body and mind for the approaching season with some simple practices called panchakarma (five actions).

The way I use PK, as it is often called, is to choose a five-day period when I eat a mono-diet of kitchari, which is a mixture of rice and split mung beans with vegetables and seasonings. The recipe is in my book Vital Yoga: A Sourcebook for Students and Teachers and is also copied at the bottom of this blog. 

I also make homemade chai tea (recipe also is in Vital Yoga). Each morning I give myself a warm oil self-massage, followed by quiet restorative yoga and meditation. During the five-day PK I try to do a bit less (but I do keep working) and sleep more. I find this five-day “pause” a wonderful way to allow my body to adjust to the coming season.

For those of the Jewish faith, the upcoming annual celebration of the New Year and the High Holidays already offer us a time for contemplation and reflection. I know I benefit from the High Holy days and the cleansing of the Yom Kippur fast. 

May the New Year be sweet and full of radiant health.

Guest blogger Meta Hirschl is an event presenter at the 14th Annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts at the JCC Indianapolis and the author of Vital Yoga: A Sourcebook for Student and Teachers. For more information visit her website and blog. You can also follow her on Twitter at @NoExcuseYoga.

Kitchari is a mixture of two ingredients, rice and beans. The beans are split mung dal that look a bit like yellow lentils, and can be purchased in health food stores and in Asian markets. Kitchari is recommended for people doing pancha karma, a cleansing, as it is supportive to the body and health and easy to assimilate. 

7–8 cups water Ghee* or olive oil for cooking, 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, Salt to taste, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 cup washed split mung dal (beans), pinch of asafetida (this is for improved digestion of the beans; you can also soak the split mung dal for a few hours or even overnight), 1 cup rice, 1 cup vegetables of your choice (I prefer sweet potatoes and kale)
* Ghee is clarified butter. You can buy it at most health food stores, or you can make it by simmering butter slowly and allowing the solid particles to sink to the bottom, then pouring off the buttery oil (ghee).

Recipe for pressure cooker with Crock-Pot
1. Boil the water in a large teakettle.

2. Into a pressure cooker, put ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil
to cover the bottom and add the black mustard, coriander, and cumin. Cook until the seeds pop, add salt to taste, then add the turmeric.

3. Add a pinch of asafetida. 

4. Add the split mung dal and rice. Stir. 

5. Add the vegetables. 

6. Pour the boiling water over the ingredients, cover, and lock the top
of the pressure cooker. Heat until you hear a rattling sound, and continue cooking on low to medium heat for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.

7. Transfer a portion for eating and store the leftovers. I store mine in a Crock-Pot so the kitchari is ready to eat whenever I am hungry.

Recipe for stove top
1. Optionally, soak the split mung dal beans overnight to shorten the cooking time. 

2. Using a large heavy pot (about 5 quarts) instead of a pressure cooker, follow the recipe above as given through adding the boiling water in step 6. 

3. Cover the pot and simmer over medium-high heat for about 50 minutes, until the split mung dal are soft. (If you soaked them prior to cooking, check for softness after 30 minutes).

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