Thursday, June 11, 2015

Closing Chapters, With Love

I want to thank you all for your love and support over the years. 

The time has come for me to retire bodhi life so that I may focus on other things in my life. The Facebook page will no longer be available in the days to come. 

bodhi life has served an AMAZING purpose in my life and I will be forever grateful. 

Please keep in touch. My website will remain live at www.bodhi-life.com and my email address that is associated is abailey@bodhi-life.com 

Take care all you beautiful love muffins! xo 

Peace,
-Ashley

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kids on the Yoga Mat - Backyard Yoga with Bodhi Life

Kids are funny in the way that they become intrigued by just about everything that you do. While natural, it’s really very powerful. As adults and influencers in children’s lives, I believe that it’s crucial that we are careful about our actions, reactions and daily activities that they see as take part in – as it is inevitable that they are going to replicate the language and behaviors around them or at the very least - take note in what is acceptable or appropriate.

Me, being single and sans children, I was constantly reminded of this dynamic when I was visiting my brother, his wife and three children for a month this past April. Their ages are 6-months, 4-years and 6 -years-old. Obviously the 6-month-old wasn’t doing too much when it came to activities but he was watching – I assure you.

I love to do my yoga outside when the weather permits. There is something about being under the sun and practicing that makes me feel a bit more connected and free.

One afternoon while I was out practicing, the 4-year-old, Grant, came to see what I was doing out in the back yard.

“Aunt Ashley, what are you doing?”

“I am doing yoga.”

“Oh.”

He stood there looking down at his feet and then my mat and then back at his feet.

“Would you like to join me?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, there are some rules that I will explain but the first rule is that there is no shoes on the yoga mat. Or socks. Bare-feet only the yoga mat.”

He looked up at me and giggled and then proceeded to take his shoes and socks off and hopped on the mat.

“Great job Grant! Now you are ready for yoga!”

He seemed a bit surprised at how excited I was.

We started off with some breathing exercises. I talked a bit about some of the guiding principles that come into my yoga practice such as breath, calm, inner peace, manifestation, affirmations and reflection.


We went on to Half Moon and he seemed to really enjoy this pose. I talked to him about the importance of being able to find calm anywhere and to use yoga as a technique to releasing anything that causes anger or other feelings that are upsetting. This seemed to resonate with Grant. Grant is one of the sweetest boys I have ever known – but let’s just say, that he has inherited my brother’s temper.

To take the breathing to another level I introduced a ‘full body exhale.’ This was new to me and was a perfect way to add a light-hearted element into the practice. On the exhale we let out a shake through our whole body from head to our arms to our feet – accompanied by a loud release in our breath. He really liked this and while he giggled and I did to – he was right back to wanting to learn more. I explained that this breath can be used “when you REALLY need to just let something go that is bothering you.” He loved this. 


We went through a few more poses and then his older brother, Carter, became interested. Grant let him know what rule number one was (no shoes or socks) and he looked at me to confirm. Once Carter was on the mat, it was a full house. To let them feel the space of mat, I moved to the grass.


We discussed the importance of “centering thoughts” and affirmations such as “I am kind.” For this practice, I helped them choose their centering thought and it was “I am kind.”


I was impressed by Carter’s naturally ability to move into Warrior II with ease. And I was also impressed by the amount of time that they stayed on the mat with me. Some other 'rules' I put into place was no shouting at one another or pushing and respect everyone else's space. This worked out very well - as if the yoga mat was a special bubble. 

Virabhadrasana II | Warrior II 
Eventually, they decided that they wanted to put their shoes on and go play.

Throughout my stay, Grant really took hold of Half Moon and the concept of breath. When he would get upset and was given options on how to handle his emotions, a few of his first choices would be “breathe” or “do yoga” or “go outside.”

This made me a proud Aunt and Yogi <3

In another yoga session of just Grant and I, we talked about the concept of Zen. Zen is not an easy concept to articulate to anyone – but it was especially challenging for me to describe the concept to a 4-year-old. But, let me tell you, Grant is a special boy and he seems to really be able to understand the concept of peace (my inner hippie is very happy at this ;)). “Zen, is a state of being where you feel at peace and calm no matter what is going on around you. So, Carter could be doing something that would normally really upset you but because you are ‘zen,’ whatever he is doing isn’t disrupting you or making you angry. It’s kind of like you are in an imaginary bubble.”

“Like a Zen bubble?”

“Yes, exactly. A Zen bubble where you simply feel at peace and breathe easy.”

He smiled and seemed to really like that. 

We also discussed 'Namaste' at the end of our practice. I explained this to him as "the spirit in me honors the spirit in you. Meaning that we are all one. I respect and honor you." And to practice love and compassion to all things living. 

In this practice, I had Grant come up with his own centering thought. I shared mine with him which was "I am graceful as I transition in life." After a moment of pondering, he said "I help others." 

My heart melted. 

Later, when his Dad came home, he couldn’t wait to tell him about the new words. (He needed a bit of help recalling what them and their meanings but once he did – he was all excited about Zen and Namaste all over again!)


To keep things interesting and fun, I came up with a new pose for just Grant and I. It kind of happened on accident  - as I was in Ardha Sarvangasana (Half-Shoulder Stand), he thought it would be fun to climb on and let me be his lever so I asked him to be careful of my knees and hold on. He did. I slowly lifted him up until he was vertical, holding gently on his shoulders so that he didn’t fall incase he let go – he laughed and so did I – a big belly laugh. He loved that! “I like when I make you laugh Aunt Ashley!” Haha… “So do I Grant!”

So this was pose was named, “The Laughing Grant.”


My brother and sister-in-law have done an amazing job at giving their children tools to handle their emotions and feelings. We talked in great detail about this and I am so very grateful that I had the opportunity to bring more tools and concepts like breathe, centering thoughts and yoga to the table.



I have found that yoga isn’t just for the 20's, 30's, 40s or 50 something’s. It’s not just for retired folks kicking around in the sand. Yoga is for all ages. Yoga is a grounding practice for all. Yoga is not just for the lean and thin or fit and muscular – yoga is for all shapes and sizes. Yoga, is for all. 

Namaste,

-Ashley

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Staying Healthy on Road Trips Continued - Bodhi Life Style

Hi Love Muffins! 

So, this is just a short little follow-on to the post I wrote a few weeks ago, "Staying Healthy on Road Trips - Bodhi Life Style."

Last week I had a short (7 hour) drive and of course, I made sure I stayed hydrated and carb'ed up with fruit ;)

Yes, when your use to 12 hour drives, 7 is easy breezy.

I started my day with some lemon water and pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt before I left the house. And then I made a large banana smoothie to get me going on my drive.

Spotty Bananas, spinach, ice and water - creamy heaven
Blueberry and raspberry infused lemon water

Hydration! And yes, I do stop to pee A LOT.

Spotty banana and romaine for lunch 
Be sure that your bananas are nice and ripe (but not OVER ripe / black as it starts to ferment) and spotty. Especially if you are high carb/fruit and eating several bananas a day otherwise they will be mostly starch (vs fruit sugar goodness) and constipate you.

Like this


They should peel effortlessly :)

For a snack I had my SunWarrior mixed with Aloe Juice and coconut water. (If you are ordering some SunWarrior be sure to go through my page there is a 10% discount code! ;))

Traaaaaafic! 

I stayed extra fueled by a variety of tunes like Buddha Bar, Playing for Change, Xavier Rudd, Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Ray, Lorde, Blake Shelton, Easton Corbin, Josh Turner, Willie Nelson , Janis Joplin, and of course, Simon & Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills & Nash. 

For dinner that night  I stayed fruity with some strawberries, cucumber and green apple that I had already cut up.  




Peace, 

- Ashley 



Friday, May 1, 2015

Kids in the Kitchen - Crackin' Coconuts with Bodhi Life

Have you ever noticed that kids get excited when you're excited? They often absorb the emotions that are in the room. When their brother or sister is upset, they feel upset - and when they are happy and excited - the other one is generally happy and excited also. This goes for the parents and adults in the children's lives too. Kids rely so much on their adult influences for their likes, dislikes, habits and interests.

What I have noticed is that when kids give that scrunched up 'ew' looking face, it is often before they have tried something AND it is usually because of the way in which the food is being presented.

"Ok, Johnny, now you need to eat this spinach because you need to eat something green and it's good for you. I really need you to AT LEAST try it. Just give it a taste."

Seems harmless right?

Well, they are now looking at that spinach like it's different. Like it's not as tasty. Like it's a chore.

Why not include them in the preparation so that they know all about all the ingredients that they are eating?

Bring up the nutritional facts on your iPad and let them read and learn about the different foods as your making them from the vegetables and herbs to the more desirable fruits and nut butters- allow them to become excited about healthy ingredients all on their own. Soon they will learn that spinach is a powerful antioxidant that includes vitamins C, E, A, manganese and minerals such as zinc and selenium. They'll learn that it also contains vitamin K, calcium and protein - all bone strengthening and muscle building properties. Ya'll remember 'Popeye the Sailor' right? The iconic energetic and muscular sailor dating back to the 1920s was often seen getting the benefits of spinach through his pipe and sometimes eating spinach from a can - well I wouldn't recommend either of those methods - the message was clear even then - eat your spinach to grow big a strong.



Why are we hiding the healthy ingredients? Real whole food IS the source of ingredients. Real whole food is what makes the meals that you and your family consumes. Giving children the opportunity to experience the texture, flavors and benefits of individual ingredients will instill a lasting appreciation for the food whether they acquire a taste for it or not.

Sure there are still going to be foods that they don't like as there are foods that adults aren't too fond of either (like I'm not a HUGE fan of celery by itself) but without a preconditioned judgement - they are free to make that determination after learning about and trying the food.

When we learn - about anything - we generally grow an appreciation for it. Whatever it is. Judgement often comes from ignorance. The same applies to food.

Also know that you can pair healthy ingredients together strategically to make it even more desirable. Spinach and other tender greens go amazing with fruits such as strawberries and spinach or fruit salsas in boats of butter or romaine lettuce. And more dense options like celery and almond butter or dates and dark chocolate. Or simply blend into smoothies. The options are endless.

So, I spent some time at out my brother's house with his beautiful wife and three boys ages 4, 6 and 6 months old. While the 6-month-old didn't partake in the tasting festivities (although he was watching and smiling)- the other two thoroughly enjoyed.

While I was there, there was smoothies with kale (YES!), spinach, avocado and all sorts of fantastic fruits! There was also vegetable saut├ęs, salads and protein additions like sprouted seeds and nuts. One of my favorite nights was when they discovered their love of coconuts and coconut water.

This was an Organic Mature Brown Coconut
To select the coconut, shake it and be sure that you can hear some water and that there is no mold or mildew by the hole/indents. 

If you have drill handy - this is the easiest way to get into the coconut. 

You'll drill into the indent that is darkest in color. In this case, it's the upper right spot.

Gettin' pumped!



You'll want to have a container ready to capture the fresh coconut water.

They were quite excited ;) 
Once the water is drained, you can open the coconut using a very sharp knife, ax or machete. You can also simply crack open the coconut using something like a hammer by first cracking by the first hole and then continue to crack all along the coconut until it cracks apart - there is a natural line that you will be able to see eventually and it will crack along it.








Cheers!

You can watch our intro here

Yes, kids can LOVE coconut water AND they'll tell you about it! (Watch here) ;) 

The coconut meat can be saved and shredded and used in all sorts of things, eaten on its own, strained into milk, or blended into coconut butter or oil.

The possibilities are vast in the world of fresh whole real foods - all found in nature.


So, next time you see a coconut at the store, go ahead and crack it on open with the kid and enjoy some of nature's most hydrating beverage.

Peace,

-Ashley

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Product Review: Windy City Organics brings a Rawesome Gust to the Palate

Raw. Vegan. Organic. Superfood. Living food. 

How does that sound?

This is what you get from Windy City Organics, the parent company of some of the most amazing raw (er... Rawesome) food brands that I have come across: Dastony, SunBiotics, RawGuru, and Rawmio. They also work very closely with Sprout Living, one of the leading manufacturers of raw, sprouted, vegan, and organic brown rice and superfood protein powders of the purest nature.

Based out of (you guessed it), Chicago, IL, Wind City Organics, is family owned and operated and is a dedicated raw organic food manufacturer, here's a bit more about them and their brands:

"We specialize in the innovation and production of some of the most delicious, healthful and functional raw vegan snacks, superfoods and organic nutritional supplements available in the world today...Our beginnings were humble. With an absolute adoration for raw chocolate as the passionate driving force, we decided to develop a product that would take the world by storm: an organic and raw chocolate hazelnut butter sweetened with pure coconut sugar. The result was absolute love at first taste and a cult-like following. Demand quickly became overwhelming, which led us to establish our very own manufacturing facility. To this day our entire facility is strictly free of gluten, dairy, corn, soy and GMO’s and we are committed to keeping it this way." Read more... 


Rawmio: "Rawmio is the brand that blossomed from our original chocolate nut butter formula. It has now expanded to include a full range 6 different chocolate almond and hazelnut butters, nutrient-rich chocolate barks, and heavenly chocolate truffle cakes." Read more...
Dastony: "The tremendous success of our unique chocolate nut butters and a deeper understanding of the stone grinding process inspired us to create Dastony, a range of gourmet nut and seed butters." Read more... 



Sunbiotics: "The basis for Sunbiotics is a belief that all aspects of our health can be benefitted by the inclusion of a daily dose of probiotics. After-all, probiotics make up around 70% of our immune system and they play an integral role in every aspect of our health. We make this feat easy with delicious and truly healthful probiotic enhanced snacks as well as whole-food organic probiotic supplements enhanced with prebiotics." Read more... 


Sprout Living: "Sprout Living is one of the leading manufacturers of raw, sprouted, vegan, and organic brown rice and superfood protein powders of the purest nature. They are also first to market exceptionally high quality freeze dried sprout mix powders. All of Sprout Living’s products are naturally gluten free, nut free, soy free and GMO free, and are the perfect accompaniment to an active, vibrant lifestyle." Read more... 




Of course, as health conscious individuals, we want to eat fresh foods - never before packaged - straight out of a garden, as often as possible. But the simple fact is that we live in a modern world and not all of us have access to what we need to thrive in our own backyards. We live in a world where we are traveling by cars, planes, trains, buses, trams, subways - and countless other means of transportation. And when we aren't in a vehicle of sorts we are walking, biking, rolling or strolling into our next meeting - bluetooth in ear, coffee in hand, bags and/or babies in the other fighting crowds and desperately trying to keep our energy up. And we have what tucked away for a snack in between meals? What about those times that we are not in the hustle and bustle but we are on play time enjoying nature with a long hike or backpacking trip or taking it easy with a road trip? What's in our pack? An apple? A banana? (Hopefully) Protein bars? And what else do we bring to sustain us between or in addition to meals that is nutrient dense?


The average protein bar consists of a long list of hard to decipher 'ingredients' like soy and/or whey protein isolate, dextrin, natural and artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, gluten (wheat/barley/rye) and genetically modified corn syrup - and even the ingredients that are otherwise healthy like nuts, seeds and coconut are typically highly processed/heated destroying the enzymes and any nutritional properties - leaving them nutrient void and you unsatisfied. These bars will likely lead to a host of residual effects such as gas, bloating, lethargy and will leave you with hunger pangs shortly after. You can read my more about my thoughts on food additives, preservatives and other dangerous ingredients here.

I strive to consume fresh foods, that do not come in a package, 95% of the time. This is generally very doable for me given my lifestyle. I go to the market and fill my cart with produce - and that is the majority of my diet. I also incorporate healthy fats and proteins with raw superfood like seeds, nuts, cacao, coconut and concentrated dried or dehydrated fruits like goji berries, cherries and dates.

Enter Windy City Organics, a one-stop-shop for just what I need to fuel my body holistically. Their products are not only packed with nutrient dense ingredients, but the list of ingredients is short and sweet (or even just one ingredient like Dastony's Stoneground Raw Almond Butter...OMG divine) and 100% organic raw unprocessed goodness.


I recently had the opportunity to try some of their products within the Sunbiotics, Dastony and Rawmio brands. All I can say, is that it was hands down the best raw chocolate and almonds that I have ever had. For real.

I started with the Sunbiotics Probiotic Chocolate bar and Chocolate Almonds (soaked & sprouted) whilst sitting outside in the sun reading Stacy Stowers', "Eat Raw, Not Cooked."





Wow. There is simply nothing about these that I would change. The raw ingredients of cacao, coconut sugar, yacon root and vanilla bean made for such a supple and sweet combination that just melted in my mouth. And the crunch of the sprouted almonds coated with raw cacao was absolutely delectable. Shockingly, I was able to stop myself at half each and enjoy the rest the next day.

My next endeavor was the Rawmio - Organic Gourmet Sour Cherry and Almond Raw Chocolate Bark (naturally I chose the other chocolate bar next lol).



I enjoyed this bar after a hike on a beautiful warm and sunny day. I cannot even begin to describe to you how tasty this treat was after my hike. That day I was totally fueled by whole fresh fruit and after the hike needed some fat and protein for an added boost. I had this bar, my vegan (SunWarrior) shake and some coconut water. This was at a pizza pitstop located just down the way from the trail head - I was thoroughly satisfied and nourished with my post-hike snack. Rawmio for life!

And then.. allow me to introduce to you the finest quality almond butter that has ever crossed these lips. Would I lie to ya'll? Of course not. Dude... this almond butter has a decadent flavor so rich and smooth that one would think there is a list 10+ long of ingredients listed on the back. Nope. Simply100% Raw and Stone Ground Almonds.

I topped mine with some raw cacao nibs...whoa.
"Dastony uses an ancient method known as stone-grinding in the production of its products. Originally used for turning olives into luscious and delicious olive oil, stone-grinding applies pressure with powerful, perfectly smooth granite wheels. Although "old world" in its approach, it is revolutionary in terms of preserving nutrients and flavor. This natural preservation is accomplished by maintaing a consistently low temperature throughout the entire process. Another unmatched result of stone-grinding is a silky smooth texture and mouth feel that is truly beyond words.
Only the finest selection of raw and organic ingredients are used in our Dastony Stone-Ground Nut and Seed Butters. Every batch is handcrafted and meticulously cared for during a process which takes 24-48 hours. The time and attention seems excessive but is well worth the results. A gourmet and silky smooth nut/seed butter that still maintains all of its nutritional integrity is something we at Dastony take great pride in." 
And lastly, I tried out Sunbiots' Cheesy Almonds over a salad. All raw. All nutrient dense. All life-giving ingredients.


These almonds added such a pleasurable zest to my salad that I did a little happy dance! Yes, this is what fantastic raw foods does to me ;)

Suffice it to say, that I couldn't have been more pleased with the products from Windy City Organics and I will be leaning on them for much of my rawesome fuel from now on.

Bodhi Life RawPower Salad: Bed of romaine, shredded carrot, chopped broccoli and cumber with tomato and raw caraway seed sauerkraut, Sunbiotics Cheesy Almonds and a side of strawberries
Raw food gives me the energy to hike with ease and do Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) over Natural Bridge.


Raw food is essential to my inner peace and vitality.


What does Raw do for you?



All of these products can be found online at the specific brand's website listed above, wholesale at Windy City Organics, or at RawGuru, on online retailer for all things raw. "RawGuru is an ever-expanding line of hand-chosen, raw and organic bulk ingredients and products such as culinary herbs and spices, raw and sprouted nuts and seeds, superfoods, butters, oils, snacks and more." From raw organic foods, raw food books, kitchen equipment & tools to beauty care, RawGuru provides a vast array of products that help to make living a raw food lifestyle in the modern world easier.

Connect with Windy City Organics

Twitter: @WCOrganics
Instagram: @windycityorganics
Facebook: www.facebook.com/windycityorganics
www.windycityorganics.com

Peace,

-Ashley