cake credits go to my friend Amanda…
Autumn Self Care: Balanced Biochemistry, Beautiful Skin and Radiant Health for the Vata Season
“Nature wants you to be beautiful: when you’re healthy, you’re beautiful; when you are happy, you are beautiful; when you are sincere, you are beautiful” Victoria Boutenko
I have already experienced the first snow this year - just some days ago while teaching in Iceland.. And as I’m making a switch to a cosy wintertime wardrobe, the daily routine, yoga self practice and many other daily rituals are about to change as well. I have been asked to write a few words about how to maintain your energy level, a happy disposition as well as a healthy glow as we move into a darker, colder season. For me, it’s an interesting assignment in many ways since for years I had difficulty liking Autumn and Winter, unable to find inner and outer balance and struggling with staying warm and immune to colds and their friends.. Not that I am completely immune to Winter blues and colds now, but I do believe that something’s changed both in my perception and in my rituals and I would love to share some tricks with you. Some of that is coming from me as a neuroscience nerd that I used to be back in uni (probably still am:) and some from me as an Ayurvedic aficionado, but hopefully as a whole, it is going to inspire you to actually try these things and feel great!
Stay physically active - whatever it is that you’re enjoying: dancing, yoga, swimming, jogging, acrobatics - as long as you’re having fun doing it! It is usually also a great excuse to be social and that promotes a healthier brain biochemistry by releasing the feel-good hormones and “cuddle chemicals” endorphins and oxytocin - that also keep your health in check
Make an appointment with a naturopath and have a vitamin and mineral test done. In Denmark most health food stores have a naturopath they are working with and I can personally recommend Helle Wedelholm. I don’t advocate stocking up on all possible supplements and have a strong faith that we should be able to get nearly all we need from a balanced diet (including vegetarians). However, I also believe that if it’s something specific you are deficient in, it’s smart to address it.
Sweat at least once a day to rejuvenate the skin - whether it’s your vigorous yoga or workout or sauna (Lululemon’s legendary advice that I could engrave on my wall!)
Get the lymph flowing by massaging the body with a dry massage glove or brush before taking your morning shower. Use long strokes directed towards the heart. Lymph is a thick liquid that detoxifies and heals the body and unlike blood, doesn’t have a heart to pump it, so the best way to get it moving is either lymph massage, dry skin brushing, quality cuddling, sauna or jumping on the trampoline. One of the most entertaining ways to strengthen your health - and kids seem to know the secret :)
Switch to oil based natural or homemade skincare - the water molecules in water based creams tend to make the skin even more dry in Autumn and Winter since the molecules of water freeze in the pores of your skin and irritate it from the inside. Try either moisturizing your skin with natural organic oils (like jojoba, argan, cacao and almond oils) or oil creams from Raw Gaia
Make your home a spa one morning a week. Take a morning off or just do that during the weekend. To purify the respiratory system and the pores of your skin, make your own facial steaming bath by boiling some water in a regular pot, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil and covering your head with a towel to breathe in the steam for a few minutes. To draw the impurities out of the skin, use dry clay blended with water (Raw Gaia has a great lava clay face pack. The raw chocolate one is great, too:). To nourish, use some raw organic oil instead of synthetics’ laden fancy creams. My personal decision is to only apply products on my skin that I can eat so essentially, your kitchen becomes your playground!
Get creative :) Here in the North the dark months are an invitation to spend a little more time indoors despite all our determination to stay active so if you feel inclined to become more introspective, go with it and express it. Whether it means you are going to explore living room dancing, redecorating your place or writing a musical, it’s one of the best things about the time of year when weather is less conducive for outdoor adventures
Sleep pattern - notice what time you’re going to bed and waking up. Sure, some things are not completely up to you especially if you have a baby in the house. But I’ll give you a little fact: with the same amount of sleep, you’ll be way better rested if your bedtimes are 10pm-6am then 12pm-8am simply because biologically we’re programmed to get way more out of our restful time if it corresponds to certain cycles - in Ayurvedic terminology that is Pitta and Vata cycles of the night when the bodily cells re-build themselves most effectively and the tissues heal and rejuvenate themselves better.
Meditate - whether it’s 5 minutes or 1 hour a day - it’s not really important. What is important is that you actually sit down to do that and find a bit of clarity in your head as you quiet down the movement. From the neurochemical perspective, it’s curious to note that while you meditate, the brain releases some of the same chemicals as it does when you experience orgasm - it fires the feel-good endorphins and decreases the amount of stress hormone cortisol. But in addition to making you feel good, you’ll also experience a sense of deeper purpose and meaning when you get mentally clear - which are probably some of the most satisfying things a human can experience.
Keep yourself hydrated - try caffeine free herbal teas that are suitable and healing for most constitutions. Try www.naturesource.dk for a great selection. I like to make a big teapot that I place beside me when I have to write or work from home - that way it’s just so easy to reach for a cup and keep the cells healthy and hydrated.
Food certainly deserves a special article. As much as I love raw food, after many years of experimenting, I am a firm believer that it’s good to combine it with some cooked food to stay warm and grounded in Autumn and Winter. Vegetable soups, hearty casseroles, spicy dahls are all great choices and can be adjusted to your diet whether you’re a vegetarian, a vegan or a ‘flexitarian’
Oil your body. You’ll stay grounded, keep the skin moisturised naturally, strengthen your immunity. Avoid coconut oil in the cold season. Its cooling properties make it a Summer favourite but it’s not your best friend for colder months. Almond, jojoba, sesame are all great choices for most constitutional types and you can get them from heath food stores or for supreme raw quality, again Raw Gaia is a great resource. If you’re more serious about Ayurvedic oiling practices, research a technique called abhyanga.
Finding time for “hygge” - this is one special Danish word and Danish concept that means…errrmm…so many things! Well, let’s put it this way: stay warm, stay cosy, surround yourself with friends and have a good time together. The extras that come along with that like a good laugh, hot tea and a boost of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, will boost your immunity and make you feel loved and appreciated.
AND the last but not least: create a mission, a purpose, a project you burn for if haven’t got one already. It’s the true driving force behind every action, every thought, every word. Make it something bigger than you, something bigger than ego, something that benefits both you, your community and perhaps also leaves a lovely little imprint on a more universal scale. You don’t have to save the world. You just have to give yourself permission to be more open to the goodness in yourself and in others, and make YOUR little world a healthier, happier place - one step at a time.
I hope that this helps you find a bit more enjoyment and a bit less resistance to the cold dark time of year here in Northern Europe. I look forward to your comments and your questions and hopefully, see some of you on the mat soon.
I didn’t sleep much tonight. Maybe because I dreamed that it was snowing and when I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night, it actually was..The first snow in Iceland this year, a spectacular sight in it’s majestic humbleness. Or maybe because I knew that the decision’s taken and in the morning I’m going for one of the most unforgettable journeys of my life - Arctic freshwater dive at Silfra, a descent in between the teutonic plates. Those who know me, also know that I have a panic fear of open water and depth in general the seed of which was planted when I nearly drowned as a child. So every rendezvois with the deep water brings about a paralyzing fear which I feel I need to confront every now and again. This time it was different though.
I had a dream just over a year ago. It was clearly happening in Iceland and I was walking over a mountain ridge that got so high it got lost in the clouds. I kept walking for a while, then suddenly stopped and without a second thought, took a sudden leap down through the clouds.
I had been falling or should I say flying for quite some time and then after I fell through the clouds, I finally saw the stunning sight: a beautiful Autumn panorama in ochre, clear crispy air as far as the eye can see and I’m falling, falling… Eventually, I land in the water in between two mountains, a deep valley where the water is so cold that the sensation of being in it penetrates my body like a million needles. And then I take a look around as I am floating mid-water and it’s so spectacular that I forget all about the lack of air and being unable to breath, forget all about how I’m dying of cold, forget about fear, mesmerized by the sight of little water crystals reflecting light like a million tiny prisms, forming countless rainbows and the finest rays intersect, interconnect, creating new fantastic colours and sparkling brightly where they meet. So I keep spinning under water, the movement is starting to resemble a weightless dance, the resistance of water making each movement slow and graceful. Then I look up only to realize that I am so deep that the sky above the water has become just a glimpse of blue..
I never planned this dive beforehand, it was one of the most spontaneous decisions I’ve taken. No dry suit experience and years since my last dive didn’t quite make me a perfect candidate for this journey but somehow I knew that it was meant to be. And when the morning of the trip the driver said we will have to drive slower through the mountain ridge since there are often clouds making the road visibility poor, I had to pinch myself this was actually happening… And the dive in this incredibly clear glacier lake water where the visibility is often over 150 meters was without any exaggeration, one of the highlights of my life so far.
I have never meditated under water before, floating weightlessly in the water that’s clearer than air so you almost forget you are in the water, never seen a bluer, brighter, more captivating shade of blue, I never dived in water that tasted better than Perrier, I never confronted such a panic state of fear at the first descent into the endless blue and such an incredible inner serenity of surrender.
This part of the world touches me so profoundly.
And in this moment, my jaw is still sore from desperately clinging to the mouth piece in the +3C water and somewhere deep in my bones I still feel the aftertaste os having spent a few hours of my life in coldest water I’ve experienced so far, but how I treasure a little glimpse into a different reality that I got a chance to try, a place on Earth where the continents merge and drift apart and where the vibration of little earthquakes that mark the constant movement and evolution of the deepest layers of this planet, is so special and distinct, it makes you want to breathe deeper, live fuller, laugh harder and love life like you never did before.
Sounds of Balinese gamelan, a deep sense of calm amidst the chaos and the traffic, an omnipresent smell of burning incense and the taxi driver telling me that we should be able to make it to the airport on time despite the fact that it’s the full moon and people are a little disturbed. A note to myself: since when do taxi drivers care about the moon phases? Well, apparently in Bali they always did, there is hardly a person who doesn’t start a day without a prayer and a flower offering and lives detached from the rhythms of nature and lunar phases. That’s what dazzled me in the beginning of the journey and still continues to impress as I am about to head back to Scandinavia.
It’s a different reality here in this part of Asia - Hindu heritage, unlike the rest of Muslim Indonesia, has certainly affected people’s mentality and I find a lot of affinity with the ways of the locals in whom I recognize a bunch of natural Bhakti yogis - the devotional spirit of living life as an offering to a higher than ourselves, the attitude of serving the divine through serving others and the Gods as well as gratitude that they infuse each day with my placing a little offering on a water and electricity meters, resonate strongly with a yogi’s mindset.
And now that I am back to Copenhagen, I have to pinch myself to believe that the last few weeks really happened. I really can’t wait to go back in January to teach the retreat that I have been preparing for.
It’s surely been an interesting timing to return home - both at full moon and just before the autumn equinox. The full moon that occurs closest to autumnal equinox (this year it is the 22nd of September - today!) is called Harvest Moon. It is the harvesting time of year in the Northern Hemisphere that marks the beginning of Autumn. An equinox occurs twice a year when the plane of the Earth’s equator passes the centre of the Sun. At this time the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun - this means that night and day are about equal length.
This is also the time when we begin to prepare for an energetic shift that takes place as we move towards the 3 darkest months of the year - time to contemplate, create and “harvest” the fruits of what we’ve been working on all year as well as prepare the ground for the next year’s beginnings. To me, these last 3 months of the year have been the time to go deeper - whether it was the yoga practice or studying the scriptures, or “hibernating” and letting creativity blossom through music. Maybe this is why returning to the North from Australia 3.5 years ago felt like such a natural shift - back to 4 seasons and honouring the natural rhythm of my body and mind that has been craving these dark months to balance out the exuberance of Spring and Summer and explore the shadows.
Autumn Equinox blessings to you all and to the planet that is in need of so much love right now.
Dear lovely yogis!!
I am so extremely pleased to invite you to a weekend of all the delicious things like yoga, meditation, smoothies and nature - in Sweden!
Let’s celebrate Summer and boost the energy by escaping to Sweden for a weekend of yoga, meditation and delicious food. We will dedicate this weekend to the practices that purify your body, make your skin glow and raise your vibration including pranayama (breath work), kriyas, yoga nidra, restorative yoga and a vinyasa class. Sauna night, dipping in the lake and our location amongst stunning Swedish nature make weekend a real treat.
Here are some facts: the dates are 2-4 August 2013, the place is http://www.mundekulla.se/, a 3-hour easy direct train ride from Copenhagen and a short taxi ride from the station, the retreat centre will cover half of the taxi bill!
The food is vegetarian and at least 80% organic.
The place is equipped with all we need for yoga and a stunning yoga space.
You can choose to bring a tent and camp or reserve a room. Most rooms have a private shower and toilet and can either be single occupancy, double or 4-bed rooms (great for making new friends!) depending on your preference.
The programme will include a lot of diversity in asana and breathing practices as well as deep guided yoga nidra session. You’ll get a chance to chill in a slow flow and restorative class as well as sweat and learn a few new tricks in a fire practice.
Please let me know if you are interested in this weekend and I if you are, I will send you the practical things to register :)
Have a wonderful week!
It’s a new moon yesterday and today. My sensitivity to moon phases varies from month to month and sometimes the effect of these phases can be almost a self-fulfilling prophecy when you expect yourself and/or others to behave or feel in a certain way.
This time however, I could tell without checking the calendar, that it was an extremity of the moon position. Why does it even have any significance?
It certainly makes sense that if moon phases affect the oceanic tides and our bodies are comprised of over 70% water, the moon would affect us too. So when my teacher encouraged us to start taking into consideration the moon phase when planning yoga classes, I was curious. I decided to research the relevance of it to yoga and meditation and then tried to see whether it applies to my own experience. At first, I could only feel it remotely, intuitively, however with time my senses sharpened and I was able to observe the energy quality in yoga space as well as shifts as they occurred. Then it seemed like it was actually a fairly consistent pattern that certain types of practices would have an amazing depth on certain days. And to summarize the New Moon patterns that have been there all along and that I have been able to eventually take notice of, are:
New Moon blessings,
Imagine starting your day rolling out of bed and into stunning yoga room with warm floors and a gigantic window overlooking the water. Beginning to awaken with yoga while the sky is lighting up and by the time you’re finishing the practice with a meditation, the sun has risen over the lagoon colouring the horizon with shades of apricot and pink and it’s time to get some breakfast and head outside to enjoy the crispy fresh air, the volcanoes all around and your morning dip in the hot springs. That’s exactly why I can’t get enough of this beautiful part of the world
This retreat will leave you feeling renewed, rejuvenated and glowing. One of the most otherworldly locations imaginable featuring healing hot springs and a stunning yoga space couldn’t be a better setting for a practice of yoga and deep meditation. For the third time, I am offering delicious yoga and meditation classes at the Lagoon to purify, strengthen and balance your mind, body and spirit.
Typical day starts with morning yoga class from 8-9.30am, continues with breakfast, morning dipping in the lagoon, yoga nidra deep relaxation on some of the days, delicious lunch at the restaurant, free time to hike, enjoy the big lagoon, all the saunas and the waterfall or just relax, afternoon yoga/meditation practice and open evening.
Delicious vegetarian meals complement yoga and meditation programme perfectly. Our group is catered for by some of the best chefs in Iceland
Arrival: at Keflavik Airport (KEF) on the 27 March 2014
Departure: from Keflavik airport (KEF) on the 30 March 2014
The location is a short taxi ride/drive from the airport
Please e-mail for price and availability email@example.com
Comments from the previous retreats with Elena Mironov:
“The right balance between yoga and personal time as well as the physical and mental work”
“You have planned everything to perfection. I felt totally spoilt and privileged to be part of the experience. The shooting star was the perfect full stop”
“Everything was perfect!”
"I loved all of it. Thank you for organizing this fantastic trip!! Looking forward to the next time."
"Dear Elena, thank you SO much for the fantastic retreats, I feel so lucky to be able to join you in Sweden, Italy and Iceland twice! Whether it was shooting stars or glow bugs or ice-swimming, they have been sparkling and magical in every way. Thank you Elena, also for the retreats that are sure to come!
"Combining all the great yoga sessions with walks in the nature, great food and the sauna - it really gives a full + complete experience. The facial massage and sauna were a lovely extra treat. Thank you once again for an amazing retreat full of everything one could wish for & more."
"I really enjoyed every class: complete bodywork, strengthening, stretching and invitation to deeper relaxation. Loved it."
My life - a whirlpool of colours, sounds, shapes, airports, yet accompanied by an omnipresent sense of deep peace that I’m learning to tap into more and more often. How did I get here I wonder? Far from the old-school model of how life is ‘supposed’ to be, I finally found the freedom to express who I am through the practice of music and spirituality, the never-ending journey that has chosen me and I’m just happy to be the practitioner and letting go of all expectations. And on a Saturday like today, after teaching yoga all day and finally sitting on my sofa catching up with all the tasks, being hopelessly slow and distracted by a bowl of pomegranates and raw new recipes of lemonades that appear in my head like little light bulbs and that I feel I need to try out immediately; when Copenhagen is filled with sunshine, soaking in this intoxicating warm deliciousness of late Spring, when a girl is drinking wine and playing guitar and singing a beautiful old song on my terrace and I can just hop out of my window and start singing along….I appreciate every person, every single thing that happened, every difficulty and every challenge, every ditch in the road, every detour that brought me where I am today - mentally, physically and emotionally. I wish that everyone could experience this overwhelming amount of gratitude and love that I feel in this moment. Appreciation truly is one of the most powerful emotions that a human can experience.
photo by Janne Larsen
I would like to invite you to join me and the amazing Janne Larsen for a week of 5 star gourmet raw food, yoga, nature and meditation from the 10-16 June 2013. There will be a bunch of international speakers and the centre that I have discovered a few months ago while teaching a yoga weekend, is going to blow your mind. Set amidst Swedish forest wilderness and just a few hours by train from Copenhagen - does it get any better!? Enjoy the clean crispy air, morning yoga and meditation, afternoon talks with nutrition experts, lots of interesting like minded people and of course the best purest food imaginable. Come come - you know you and your body are going to love it :)
Read more here and get in touch with me if you are interested in coming along (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lots of love and sparkles,