I am writing from Japan. Japan posts soon to start coming (so exciting to be here!), but first a follow up on two fabulous in-city one-day retreats that I just offered with MJ Conboy of MJ’s Plant Smart Kitchen this past weekend. The retreat’s focus was on building and boosting a strong immune system via yoga asanas and learning a few new recipes espousing a plant-based diet.
Read on below. I hope you are able to glean some ideas from this blog post, be inspired by the photos, try the yoga sequence, peruse the cook book titles below, and be inspired by the various readings shared in our retreat.
Plant Based Cook Books:
Books with recipes based on a plant-based diet:
The Urban Vegan by Dynise Balcavage
Salad Samurai, 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-To-Make Salads by Terry Hope Romero
Veganomicon, The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
The 30-Day Vegan Challenge by Coleen Patrick Goudreau
The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
A Grateful Heart, Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles , edited by M. J. Ryan
Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, and Lots of Cremay Italian Classics by Chloe Coscarelli
The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health by Michio Kushi and Alex Jack
the milf diet, Let The Power of Whole Foods Transform Your Body, Mind, and Spirit…deliciously by Jessica Porter
Macrobiotics for All Seasons by Marlene Watson-Tara
Mayumi’s Kitchen, Macrobiotic Cooking for Body and Soul by Mayumi Nishimura
A yoga sequence for Immune System Boosting:
- Seated Forward Bend (relaxes the nervous system)
- Half Spinal Twist (Seated, twists help to cleanse, stimulate and strengthen the internal organs)
- Dolphin (like downward facing dog, but on your elbows) to an inverted pose balanced on your elbows (can be done at the wall or with your legs walking up the wall) inversions are excellent for bathing and enhancing function of the endocrine system.
- Uddyana Bandha (standing breathing exercises sometimes called the Abdominal Lift) breathe in through nose and exhale through the mouth while pulling belly in.
- Sun Salutations
- Standing Forward Bends (feet together and feet apart)..when in a wide angle forward bend, you can add twists
- Arches: lying over a block, camel, bow, cobra, upward facing dog, full backbend (some of these were done in pairs with a helper)
- Seated side bend
- Shoulder stand—plough—fish pose
- Block under your upper back (another way to do fish)
- Legs up the wall (great for movement of the lymphatic fluids, enhances the lymphatic system)
Yoga helps boost the immune system by reducing stress and strengthening the lungs (with the breathing). We all know that psychological stress doubles the chance of a person getting a cold! Yoga practice lowers stress hormones and calms the nervous system. The fight or flight response is eclipsed by the relax and renew response. It also helps by optimizing the functions of the following systems:
- circulatory system
- lymphatic system
- respiratory system (the yoga postures help improve mechanical efficiency of our lungs by conditioning them. With yoga, we increase the elasticity of the lungs and strengthen them)
- nervous system
- immune system
Twists specifically increase oxygen to organs for optimal function. They also cleanse, rid the organs of toxins, and supply the organs and glands with fresh blood supply. Twists massage the body and internal organs and help us to relax.
Restorative postures, such as lying over a block or bolster, putting legs up the wall, or lying in shavasana, are soothing. They help us to relax and they also help build vigor!
In addition to the featured poses and breathing pranayama exercise to help boost the immune system, don’t forget to inject these other essential elements into your daily life:
- ENOUGH SLEEP
- ANY ACTIVITY THAT HELPS YOU RELIEVE STRESS (can be walking, dancing, listening to music, vigorous aerobic exercise, reading, spending time with people you love)
- EAT WELL (and eat as much of a plant-based diet and non-processed food diet as is possible_
We also shared several readings (below are a few):
“The food movement is about quality of life. What we eat affects how we feel physically and emotionally. How food is grown and processed has an impact on the health of those who eat it. How our food is produced affects the environment, the existence of wildlife, and the size and characteristics of our country’s farms. It also impacts the local and global economies. How we eat affects our ability to interact with others and provide for ourselves, and it influences relationships with friend and families. Eating and preparing food with those we care about provides a much different experience than driving through a fast-food restaurant or eating in one’s car. How we spend our food dollars determines the kind of food system we create, and the health of our farms, families, and communities. As Wendell Berry said, ‘Eating is an agricultural act.’ With the present focus on local food systems, now is the time to vote with our forks, as well as our ballots, and make positive changes in the food system.”
Marion Kalb, Co-founder, National Farm to School Network
OK, the food we made and ate did not have cheese or meat, but I couldn’t help but read this fun poem by Shel Silverstein. I read it with gusto…You really have to wet your tongue with a bit of olive oil and recite this aloud. It’s a mouthful:
Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just ’cause how good it tastes
But ’cause how good it rhymes.
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese,
Fried zucchini, rollatini,
Fettuccine, green linguine,
Oops–I think I split my jeani.
Very exciting was learning how to perfect making Nori Rolls!!