News from the Centre: November 2016

Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that – it lights the whole sky.

-Hafiz

Hello everyone,

Greetings from beautiful, wet Salt Spring Island.

fountain-fall

Although rain and cooler weather have set in, it doesn’t deter the hard-working farm team. While Milo and Jules are away, Sharna and Harley are completing the work of getting us ready for winter. Sharna continues to work and play with the school kids, and has contributed this month’s farm update.
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The rain and cooler weather have created some big changes here on the farm, but they haven’t limited the number of projects on the go. Before departing on his exciting Europe adventure, Milo was busy on the tractor tilling and cover-cropping the fields in preparation for winter, leaving the hardy plants such as kale, chard and leeks remaining for harvest.

Although most of the vegetables that sustained us over summer have stopped growing, they’re still going to good use. We have been utilising the upper greenhouse to dry beans, sunflowers, amaranth, buckwheat, flax, walnuts and much more. These will not only provide us with some healthy snacks, but will also be used as seed for next season.

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The weather also isn’t preventing the Centre School children from getting involved. Dressed in their colourful rain jackets and welly boots, the children have been providing their assistance in doing some last harvesting of tomatoes, pears and apples. They have been learning all about how to protect the farm’s soil over winter and have now moved their plant pots to their brand new greenhouse built by some amazing karma yogis. Their latest project involves getting creative with natural resources from the farm to build some spooky decorations for the SSCY halloween party!

Our regular weekly events – Sunday satsang and Wednesday kirtan continue to draw many islanders; kirtan is very popular on Salt Spring! Yoga classes remain ever popular. Monthly full moon yajnas are another regular event on our calendar, the next one scheduled for Thursday, November 10.

This month’s Newsletter Offerings

Some of the kids - and a couple of adults -in March, 1984. Back row: Usha, Maicha; front row: Rohan, Kerry, Ariel behind Kerry, Maya, SunMoon, Tzigani, ,Nayana, Sunya behind Nayana, Ananda . Missing from this photo are Rajom, Fainne and Uma. Between Usha and Maicha is someone we can’t identify; if you know who it is, please let us know.Continuing the Centre history series, I hope you enjoy the story of the beginnings of the Salt Spring Centre School.: “In 1982 ‘Babaji said: Start your own school. Here’s what happened”.

Tanya Gita Roberts, a member of our YTT faculty, leads us through Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclining Bound Angle in the Asana of the Month series. This is a relaxing, restorative pose that stimulates the abdominal organs, helps balance hormones and settle the mind – perfect for this time of year!

Another powerful tool for relaxation is something that’s with us all the time – the breath. Tricia Priya McLellan, another of our excellent YTT faculty, has contributed “The De-Stress Button: Health is just a Breath Away”. We all need a de-stress button – and the good news is it’s built right in. Giving attention to the breath can bring us back to our centre, to ourselves.

Yet another gift to help us ease our way into fall and winter comes from Pratibha Queen in her article, “The Wonders of Ghee” (Clarified Butter). Ghee (or other healthy oils if you follow a vegan diet) is good for all body types, and is particularly helpful for nourishing and strengthening the digestive system. Pratibha says, “Treat yourself to the luxury of ghee every day and watch the health benefits unfold.” It’s easy to make, too; just follow the recipe that’s included.

These tools for health and well-being – restorative asana poses, focus on the breath and attention to physical health (particularly digestive health)  – can help us stay calm and balanced as we move through fall and winter.

Donations for Sri Ram Ashram

As we approach the gift-giving season, here is a reminder of how you can make a charitable donation to Sri Ram Ashram.
In order to receive a receipt for tax purposes in Canada, donations to Sri Ram Ashram may be made through:

Ram Yoga
6479 CONC.2 RR3
STN. MAIN
Stouffville, ON
L4A 7X4

http://donate2charities.ca/en/RAM.YOGA.CENTRE._.0_888783461RR0001

To learn more about this wonderful home for abandoned and destitute children, go to sriramfoundation.org. Supporting Sri Ram Ashram is a way of showing our appreciation for the many gifts of teaching that Baba Hari Dass has given us.

It is not too late to make a tax deductible donation for 2016.

Whatever is going on in the wider world, and in our own little personal world, to navigate well we need to be clear and centred ourselves; otherwise we’re not very effective. We know this, then we forget, but we can come back again and again. That’s why it’s called practice. Here’s wishing you well in your continued practice.

A reminder from Babaji: This is life. It includes pleasure, pain, good, bad, happiness, depression, etc. There can’t be day without night. So don’t expect that  you or anyone else will always be happy and that nothing will go wrong. Stand in the world bravely and face good and bad equally. Life is for that. Try to develop positive qualities as much as you can.

Love,

Sharada

In 1982 Babaji said, “Start your own school.” Here’s what happened.

In the summer of 1982 Babaji said to Usha, “Start the school”. She protested that she knew nothing about teaching young children. She had an impressive list of experiences and qualifications, none of which seemed to be what was needed to run a school. However, she discovered what Babaji had known all along: she was perfectly suited to run a school and to teach children.

There were ten families urging Usha to teach, wanting to send their children to the school at the Centre – even though there was no actual school location yet. The Salt Spring Centre basement was the planned location of the school, but the preparations had encountered unexpected delays, so the school began in a bedroom on the main floor, later dubbed room 108. In September of 1983 school began in that room with 10-12 children (it varied). They spent a lot of time outdoors as well, the entire property becoming their classroom.

The students in that first year were Nayana Filkow, Maya Suess, Fainne Emery, Uma Emery, Ariel Corkum, Rajom Black, Rohan Tate, Kerry Martin, SunMoon Perreault, Sunya Dawn Davies, Ananda Aurora Davies. Also, for a short period of time, Autumn and Moonbeam.

The first classroom was in what’s now room 108. You can see the doorway (with no stairs leading to it) on the left side of the photo, around the corner from the back stairs (then the only entrance). There was a ladder to begin with, soon replaced by a set of stairs.

The first classroom was in what’s now room 108. You can see the doorway (with no stairs leading to it) on the left side of the photo, around the corner from the back stairs (then the only entrance). There was a ladder to begin with, soon replaced by a set of stairs.

In November the basement room was ready for the school. It was great while it lasted, but apparently this space was not meant to be the school location for long. In September of the following year, the school population outgrew the tiny space in the basement, so the library (then called the piano room) was used for part time overflow. Sharada Filkow and Dan Jason taught part time.

The schoolroom in the basement

The schoolroom in the basement

Outside the door to the classroom in the basement: Maya, Satyanand, Nayana, Rohan, Ariel

Outside the door to the classroom in the basement: Maya, Satyanand, Nayana, Rohan, Ariel

Some of the kids - and a couple of adults -in March, 1984. Back row: Usha, Maicha; front row: Rohan, Kerry, Ariel behind Kerry, Maya, SunMoon, Tzigani, ,Nayana, Sunya behind Nayana, Ananda . Missing from this photo are Rajom, Fainne and Uma. Between Usha and Maicha is someone we can’t identify; if you know who it is, please let us know.

Some of the kids – and a couple of adults -in March, 1984. Back row: Usha, Maicha; front row: Rohan, Kerry, Ariel behind Kerry, Maya, SunMoon, Tzigani, ,Nayana, Sunya behind Nayana, Ananda . Missing from this photo are Rajom, Fainne and Uma. Between Usha and Maicha is someone we can’t identify; if you know who it is, please let us know.

When the building inspector declared the basement classroom unfit for a school, the school was booted out and spent March 1985 – June 1986 in the home of the Jacob family. In May, the inspector of independent schools was delighted with his visit and recommended that Usha apply for funding for the following year.

By September 1986 the school was back in the main house, but upstairs this time: the piano room (now the library), the satsang room and, when there were weekend programs, the yurt on Fridays. School and programs managed quite harmoniously during that time. The school had no permanent fixtures; everything was movable, including the chalkboard and displays. The bookshelves were on wheels and were reversible. Turn them around, put a doily and some flowers on top – et voila! On Sunday evenings the satsang room was turned back into a school.

Meanwhile, a school building became available in Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island. It was for sale, and Chakrapani, a DS member who lived in Alert Bay, bid on it, bought it, and donated it to Dharma Sara. A group of satsang men headed up north and spent about a week dismantling the building and loading it onto a flatbed truck, to be rebuilt at the Centre.

The arrival of the school building. SN atop the panels, Sanatan on the ground.

The arrival of the school building. SN atop the panels, Sanatan on the ground.

Preparing the foundation: Sid, SN, Martti, Satyanand, Tao (The bus was Tao’s.)

Preparing the foundation: Sid, SN, Martti, Satyanand, Tao (The bus was Tao’s.)

Once the foundation was completed, the building was rebuilt. We had a school building – but it was still an unfinished shell. It wasn’t until 1990 that the school moved in. The main floor was unfinished, but school began that year in the two upstairs classrooms. The big room upstairs was still unfinished and served as a gym for indoor hockey games. Eventually that room also got finished as did the main floor.

In the beginning Usha was the main teacher, but over time as the school population grew, so did the school staff and the number of classrooms. For a period of time, school extended from kindergarten through grade 9, with Mark Classen teaching the senior class – grades 7-9 (although there were two boys who didn’t want to leave after grade 9 and stayed on through grade 10). Eventually, given space requirements and the fact that Salt Spring now had a middle school, the Centre School staff and board decided to focus on elementary education, kindergarten through grade 6.

Traditions begun by Usha in the earliest years continue to this day: Rosh Hashanah, Advent (now called Celebration of Light), Lunar New Year, May Day, whole school theatre productions and the annual family camping trip at the end of the school year – and of course, the much-used peacekeeping script that helps students resolve their own disputes.

May Day 2015

May Day 2015

Getting ready for the dragon parade, Lunar New Year 2015

Getting ready for the dragon parade, Lunar New Year 2015

The school grew from what was known as Usha’s School in the earliest years to become a vital part of the educational options on Salt Spring Island. The Salt Spring Centre School is a gem in the heart of the island, offering small class sizes with excellent teachers, lots of enrichment, and a sense of belonging to a community – on this beautiful land where children get to explore and play outdoors every day.

Contributed by Sharada, with gratitude to Babaji for directing Usha to start the school, to Usha for listening to him and to the many families who have been part of the school community over the years.

The De-Stress Button: Health is Just a Breath Away

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We all have this amazing gift that we carry with us everywhere we go: a tool that enables us to burst into a fast sprint if we come across a bear in the bush, or to instill a sense of calm, clarity, and increased immunity within us. This gift is our breath. In ancient yogic tradition learning how to control your breath is called pranayama or breath control. As we begin to learn how to control the breath, we can ultimately learn how still the mind, lower blood pressure, decrease stress, lower anxiety, relieve depression, and increase our concentration. Let’s explore this together.

Adjust your body so you are in a comfortable, upright position, creating a posture of awareness. Notice the sensation of your natural inhale and exhale as it moves throughout your body without changing its direction.

Now, part your lips and breathe in and out through your mouth five times.

  • Now, close your mouth and breathe in and out only through your nose five times.
  • Still breathing in through your nose only, exhale, and draw your belly button back towards your spine to squeeze out any extra air.
  • As you inhale, fill your belly first like a balloon and then guide that same breath up into your rib cage expanding your chest.
  • Exhale, drawing the belly button back and emptying out all air. Let’s try that again, working your way up to five full, complete yogic breaths.

How did your body respond to breathing just through the mouth?

When we breathe through the mouth it directs the air to the upper lobes of the lungs. This is where the stress receptors and the connection to our sympathetic nervous system – the flight or fight response – are located. When you take a deep breath in through the mouth it fills the upper lobes of the lungs first and activates the stress receptors, engaging the flight or fight response. This is what gives you that quick burst of energy to run away from a bear.

Our lungs have five lobes. The majority of people breathe only into the two upper lobes, leaving most of their lung space dormant. If all, or a majority, of the 26,000 breaths we take in a day are shallow, upper chest mouth breaths, then these stress receptors will be continuously activated. This constant activation of the emergency stress response taxes our adrenal glands, compromises immunity, and is degenerative for the body. During mouth breathing, air and its associated prana – the body’s energetic life force – are moved in and out of the body without entering the sinus cavity, resulting in less prana being absorbed into the brain and nervous system. (The breath has been associated with life force throughout history. In China it is called chi, and in India it is called prana. Prana, is carried into the body and cells through water, food, and air. This is why pure water, fresh food, exercise, and breathing techniques are fundamental components to perfect health.)]

How did your body respond to breathing only through the nose?

Breathing through the nose, on the other hand, delivers the air deeper into the lower lobes of the lungs because of the structure inside the nasal passage and sinus cavity. Turbines, or turbinates, in the nasal cavity allow air to spin and move in a thinner rotating stream. This forceful and direct stream of air effectively penetrates the deeper, lower lobes of the lungs where the receptors for the parasympathetic nervous system are concentrated. This is our de-stress button.

The nasal breath practices used during pranayama are teaching the body how to deal with stress, cope with fear, and prevent the impacts of extreme stress, such as compromised immunity, disease, and mood disorders. Deep breathing not only facilitates a feeling of calm, but offers improved health and performance. Deep nasal breathing is also the key ingredient in the development and full use of our nervous system.

Breathing through the nose provides something else that breathing through the mouth cannot. With proper nasal breathing, the amount of prana available to the nervous system is increased and it directly accesses the brain. Prana is carried by oxygen and enters the nasal cavity with the breath. While in the nose, the air is cleaned, warmed, and filtered before it enters the sinuses and lungs. While moving through the nose, prana moves through the olfactory plate directly into the emotional cortex or limbic system of the brain and connects with the cerebral hemisphere of the frontal lobes—the cognitive thinking part of our brain.

A pranayama (yoga breathing technique) called Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is practiced by alternating the breath in and out of one nostril at a time. Forcing the breath through opposite sides of the head initiates a cycle of alternating cerebral dominance between the hemispheres of the brain. With depression and anxiety, one cerebral hemisphere of the brain is more active than the other. The right hemisphere shows greater activation in anxiety, while the left hemisphere is more active in depression. The healing powers of alternate nostril breathing prove to be significant in helping with these conditions.

By practising pranayama breathing techniques and daily nasal breathing we can prevent the impacts of stress. The breath opens the door, giving us access to our full or enhanced human potential.

Namaste
Tricia ( Priya) McLellan
Co-owner/ Operator Satya Yoga Studio
info@satyayogastudio.ca
www.satyayogastudio.ca

Reference:
“Perfect Health for Kids,” Dr. John Doulliard
“Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,” Baba Hari Dass
“MMC School of Yoga Teacher Manual,” Mount Madonna Center

tricia-priyaTricia is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-500hr) graduate from the Salt Spring & Mt. Madonna Yoga Center, RYT 300 Integrative Yoga Therapist and has earned a Diploma in Human Kinetics.

Tricia McLellan is a graduate of the Salt Spring Yoga Centre, RYT 500 hr Mount Madonna Centre, 300 hr Integrative Yoga Therapeutics, and is the Co-Owner of Satya Yoga Studio in Williams Lake. She is trained in classical ashtanga & hatha yoga systems, yin yoga, level 2 reiki, integrative yoga therapeutics, diploma in Human Kinetics and is enjoying discovering more about children, youth and family yoga. In her yoga classes, Tricia weaves together mindfulness, alignment, strength and softness in a flow style practice. She guides students in a rhythm that allows them to move in harmony with their breath and to discover the obstacles / opportunities that are waiting to be met. The word Satya means truth and she invites you to discover your truth Contact: info@satyayogastudio

Nourish and Ground: Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

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Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love all the changes that take place during this season. The leaves turn vibrant yellows and reds and golden oranges and browns as they offer up a sensory feast for the eyes. The air turns cool and crisp and walking in the fall air turns our cheeks rosy. To keep ourselves warm we layer up, bringing out our hats, scarves, sweaters, cozy jackets, and boots. For me, fall is a time of reconnection with my inner child, jumping into, skipping through, or kicking up the piles of leaves lining the sidewalks and roadways.

Fall provides the opportunity to slow down, to release the hectic pace of summer, as all of nature begins to prepare for the winter ahead. From the perspective of Ayurveda, as nature transitions into fall, it lets go of the dominance of fiery Pitta and enters Vata time of year. Vata is the dosha (or constitution) governed by the elements of air and ether/space. Vata is dry, cool, and mobile. The arrival of fall winds and storms is one manifestation of Vata’s tendency toward movement. Remembering that we too are a part of nature, this movement outside creates movement inside of us as well. This movement inside can manifest as a lack of grounding, increased activity in the mind (swirling or racing thoughts, for example), insomnia, and difficulties in allowing the body to be still.

Nourish and Ground your Body and Mind

There are many ways that we can help nourish and ground our bodies and minds at this time of year. Food is one way we can do this. Fall foods are some of my favorites – warm hearty soups and stews and roasted root vegetables are great choices to help pacify the increase in Vata that occurs in the autumn. Self-massage with warmed oils (abhyanga) is also very effective for calming and grounding both mind and body. In addition, restorative yoga is a wonderful way to calm the mind and nervous system, encourage stillness in the physical body, and establish a connection to our inner wisdom and Spirit. This connection is vital for keeping us grounded and centred, regardless of what is happening outside.

Benefits of Supta Baddha Konasana

Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose is an ideal restorative pose to practice whenever you feel swept away by the winds of the season. This posture opens the chest, abdomen, and pelvis and counteracts the effects of sitting hunched over a computer all day. The props cradle the body and create a sense of comfort and safety that permits us to deeply relax. Reclining Bound Angle pose calms the nervous system, relieves stress and fatigue, and is beneficial to those with high blood pressure. It is a great posture for women during their menstrual period and menopause and is also very helpful for women during pregnancy. This is my go-to pose when my anxiety starts to spin out of control.

Contraindications

This is a pose you will to exercise caution with if you have disc problems in your lower back or sacroiliac dysfunction. You can experiment with lower prop heights with these conditions, but be mindful – restorative postures are meant to be effortless and comfortable, so if you aren’t comfortable even with prop adjustments, this posture might not be appropriate for your body.

If you have disc disease or other injuries or tenderness in your neck, support your head and neck. You might have to play with different heights of props to find your place of comfort.

If you have a knee injury, you might find that keeping the knee bent for prolonged periods of time is uncomfortable. You can always start by holding the pose for shorter periods or extending your legs periodically while you are in the pose.

Please, do not practice this posture if you have spondylolisthesis or spondylosis.

Props

You will need a few props for this pose: a bolster, 2 cushions or blankets to support your legs, a cushion or blanket to support the back of your head and neck. In case you need to adjust the height of your set-up, have a couple of yoga blocks or extra cushions/blankets handy. You might also want to have a blanket to cover yourself, so you stay warm and cozy for the time you are in the pose. You might also choose to use an eye pillow to support and deepen your relaxation.

Setting Up

Prop set up

Prop set up

Place your bolster on the ground. If you don’t own a bolster, grab a blanket or two and fold or roll them to create a “bolster” to support your back. I find that a thick blanket or quilt works nicely. Sit with your tailbone/sacrum up against the end of the bolster, knees bent and feet on the floor. Make sure your blankets and cushions are easy to reach before you lie down. Lie down on the bolster, using your arms for support. Are you comfortable? If not, you will need to adjust the height of your props. You can increase the height of your bolster by adding a folded blanket. Other height adjustments include placing a block or cushion under the head end of the bolster or placing a block or cushion beneath your bottom.

Once you have found a comfortable height, place a folded blanket beneath the back of your head. Alternatively, you might make a small roll at one end of the blanket and place that beneath the curve of your neck. Ideally, your forehead will be higher than the chin, the chin higher than the sternum, and the sternum higher than the pelvis. In other words, your torso will be slightly angled away from the floor, bottom lower than the head.

With your knees bent, allow the soles of your feet to come together and let your knees fall out to the sides. Place a cushion or folded/rolled blanket beneath each of your outer thighs to help support your legs. The blankets or cushions should completely support your legs, and your knees should be equal heights away from the floor. Check in with yourself. Do you need to add more height beneath your legs? Are you still comfortable with the height of your bolster and the support behind your head? Adjust your props as needed.

You might feel like you need a little height to support your arms. You can choose to place a cushion or folded blanket beneath each of your forearms. This arm support can help relax the shoulders and chest. If you have an eye pillow, place your eye pillow gently over your eyes and let yourself settle in.

Supported Bound Angle Pose

Supported Bound Angle Pose

Let go of any effort you might be using to hold yourself up. Can you allow the earth to rise up and cradle or embrace the whole back of your body? Let the eyes fall away from the back of the eyelids and relax your jaw. Notice the soft flow of your breath – breathing in, aware you are breathing in; breathing out, aware that you are breathing out. Allow your breath to breathe you – letting go of all effort. Rest here for as long as you like, staying for as long as 30 minutes.

Coming out of the Pose

When you are ready to come out of the pose, start by slowly letting your awareness come back toward the outside world. Notice the sounds in the room, notice the sensations in your body. Begin to make some small movements as you’re ready, maybe wiggling fingers and toes or letting your head rock from side to side. Remove your eye pillow, open your eyes, and allow your movements to grow, until you feel ready to either lengthen your legs out or place your hands on the outsides of the knees to help draw your knees back towards one another. Roll onto one side and take a couple of breaths here. When you’re ready to rise, press the ground away with the arms and come up toward seated. Notice what Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose offered up to you today. Move into another posture or continue on with the rest of your day.

About the Instructor

tanya-gita-robertsTanya Gita Roberts has been practicing yoga for almost 16 years, starting in university as a way to alleviate stress and anxiety. Her practice has evolved to become the cornerstone for all aspects of her life. Gita completed her 200 hour training at the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga in 2011 and 500 hour training at the Mount Madonna Centre in 2014. She is a faculty member of the SSCY Yoga Teacher Training, instructing Shath Karma and Asana classes. Baba Hari Dass reminds us that we “teach to learn” and she takes this to heart, learning something new in every class she teaches or takes. Her teaching style integrates principles of alignment, subtle body and Ayurveda. By cultivating harmony of body, breath, and mind throughout practice, she encourages students to dive inside and connect with their deepest Selves. Gita teaches Hatha, Gentle, Yin and Restorative classes in Victoria.

The Wonders of Ghee (Clarified Butter)

5414606076_52a3504606_z-copyGhee is the purified form of butter, often called “clarified butter.” In Sanskrit, it is referred to as ghrta. Ghee is one of the most ancient and sattvic foods known. According to Charaka (one of the codifiers of the Ayurvedic system of natural medicine), ghee plays a vital role in health maintenance; it “promotes memory, intelligence, vital fire (agni), semen, vital essence (ojas), kapha, and fat. It is curative of vata, pitta, fever and toxins.”

After years of promoting a low-fat diet, modern nutritionists are now saying that consuming healthy fats is very important for brain function, digestion, increased absorption, and overall health. And ghee is definitely a healthy source of fat. (Those with a vegan inclination can substitute other healthy vegetable oils – such as sesame, olive and coconut – into their daily routine. They also have a myriad of health promoting properties.)

Ghee is good for all body types, especially vata were it counters the vata’s tendency to dryness; it also serves to promote a healthy pitta dosha, as it is considered cooling, soothing, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. Minimal use of fatty substances is recommended for kapha types, for their bodies naturally generate sufficient fat tissue. Ghee is also loaded with heart-, brain- and skin-healthy Omega-3 and Omega-9 essential fatty acids, along with all the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, minerals and at least nine antioxidants.

Ghee is particularly useful to promote a healthy digestive system. First it adds fuel to the fire of the digestive enzymes in the stomach. In the small intestine, ghee helps lubricate the passageway, helping to ease the digested nutrients into the blood vessels. And in the colon, ghee is the primary fuel for the cells lining the colon. Ghee is also rich in Butyric acid, which helps to repair the intestinal walls and boosts our immune system.

A dollop of ghee with your meal is especially welcome during the vata season in autumn. You can include ghee with nearly any dish – cook a teaspoon in your hot breakfast cereal; add it to grains and soups right at the table; it’s delicious slathered on a piece of toast. You can use it to sauté vegetables, tofu, even scrambled eggs.

As a soothing daily moisturizer, as a topical remedy for burns and scars, as a “bath” for the eyes, and even for the practice of “oil-pulling” as a part of dental hygiene, ghee can be part of an anti-aging skin care routine and kept in everybody’s medicine cabinet.

Glee also serves as a base for herbal ointments to treat sunburns, skin rashes, ulcers, and other conditions. Many herbal mixtures are taken with ghee, as the herbs are then absorbed directly into the liver. It does not increase cholesterol, as does butter, according to Ayurvedic tradition. It is high in protein and is taken with milk to increase Ojas, the vital energy reserve that supports the immune system.

Making your own Ghee

Maintain a clean appearance and a calm mind while preparing your ghee.

What you need:
One pound organic, unsalted butter
A heavy bottomed, stainless steel saucepan
A metal spoon
A small strainer
Cheese cloth
A dry, clean wide-mouth glass jar

Put the butter in the saucepan over medium heat and stir periodically with the metal spoon. When the butter has melted and begins coming to a boil, reduce the heat to low. You want the liquid to continue to simmer slowly with small bubbles.

From the milk solids, a foam will develop on top and will eventually sink to the bottom. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Continue to stir every few minutes until all the foam has gone to the bottom and there is golden ghee on top. This can take from 15-30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool for an additional 15-30 minutes.

When the ghee is cool enough, but still liquid, place the cheese cloth over the strainer and set it over the glass jar. Then gently pour the ghee through the cheese cloth and strainer into the jar. Make sure none of the milk solids make it into the jar. Cover the jar and let it cool overnight.

Ghee can be stored at room temperature for a month or two and for 2 to 4 months in the refrigerator without going bad.

Ghee is truly one of nature’s most incredible and versatile substances, having stood the test of time for millennia. Useful as a food and medicine, used internally or topically, alone or mixed with herbal preparations, ghee is a genuine elixir on your kitchen shelf. Treat yourself to the luxury of ghee on a daily basis, and watch the health benefits unfold.


Pratibha Queen

Pratibha Queen

Pratibha Queen is an Ashtanga Yoga instructor and Ayurvedic practitioner who lives in Santa Cruz. She is a member of DSS who attends Salt Spring Centre of Yoga retreats on a regular basis. All quotes above are from the writings of Baba Hari Dass.

Ghee image by Larry Jacobsen via flickr cc