Archive for the ‘Recommended Materials’ Category

Key Elements of a Vata Balancing Practice

Thursday, September 17th, 2015


Some Key Elements of  a Vata Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling fatigued, stressed, anxious, ungrounded, nervous, agitated, unable to sleep, overwhelmed, indecisive, frazzled, depleted (need I go on?) will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Most importantly, less is more!  When we are feeling depleted or overwhelmed, one supported pose held for 5-30 minutes will restore you deeply.  A more active, exertive practice can exacerbate your symptoms.

Support yourself, especially your head.  Use bolsters, blocks, blankets, chairs, cushions, the couch, the edge of your bed, and anything else that does the job .  Supporting the head quiets the brain and soothes the nervous system.  Supporting the rest of the body allows it to rest deeply.

Sandbags.  Applying weight to the limbs is extremely soothing to the nervous system.  Place sandbags on the arms, legs, sacrum or shoulders to teach the body to release and surrender.  A sandbag on the forehead of an overactive brain is bliss (think Shirodhara).

Pratyahara/withdrawing the senses.  Use an eye pillow or a head wrap to turn the senses (sight and hearing) inwardly.  Sights and sounds draw our attention outward, which takes its toll.  When we turn the eyes and ears towards our inner self, we take a break from the stimulations of life, and can rest.

Inversions.  Inversions balance the hormone systems in the body, including stress hormones.  Choose well-supported inversions that allow the body to relax.  Chair Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Viparita Karani (legs up the wall), and Viparita Dandasana (inverted staff pose) over a chair are excellent choices.

Pranayama.  Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) and Samana Vayu (equal lengths inhalation and exhalation) are very balancing.  Bhramari (bumblebee breath) with Sanmuki Mudra helps sooth insomnia.  Focusing on your exhalation will sooth and relax, and focusing on the inhalation will energize and replenish you.

Keep warm.  Restorative yoga brings the body temperature down, and Vata types run cold, so wear your sweaters, cover yourself with blankets, and camp out in front of the wood stove or a space heater.

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.


Intro to Ayurveda

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

The 5 Elements create everything in the universe- including us!

• Space
• Air
• Fire
• Water
• Earth
The 3 Doshas

imgresVATA: Communication + Transportation

Space + Air
Cold, dry, light, fast, mobile, rough
Balanced: friendly, creative, busy, social, upbeat

Unbalanced: Anxiety, insomnia, constipation, memory problems
 Treatment: Warm, well-spiced foods, abhyanga, meditation

imgres-1PITTA: Metabolism + Assimilation

Fire + Water
Hot, light, sharp, oily, smooth, fluid
Balanced: Intelligent, charismatic, organized, productive

Unbalanced: Irritable, critical, skin + eye problems, inflammation
Treatment: Cooling foods, anti-inflammatory diet, calm environment

imgres-2KAPHA Structure + Lubrication

Water + Earth
Heavy, dense, cold, wet, static/slow, oily
Balanced: Loving, strong, loyal, steadfast, peaceful
Unbalanced: Overweight, depressed, exhausted, listless
Treatment: Light spicy foods, daily exercises, cleansing routines



Ayurvedic Practices

  • ✴  Establish a proper diet for your constitution and eat seasonally
  • ✴  Develop a healthy Dinacharya (daily routine)
  • ✴  Take herbal preparations as recommended
  • ✴  Receive Ayurvedic Bodywork- abhyanga, shirodhara, etc
  • ✴  Participate in seasonal Cleanses 1-2 times each year

Sample Dinacharya

  • ✴  Rise with the sun
  • ✴  Drink a cup of warm water
  • ✴  Brush teeth, scrape tongue, oil pulling, nasya
  • ✴  Evacuate bowels
  • ✴  Yoga (or other exercise)
  • ✴  Meditation, pranayama, mantra
  • ✴  Abhyanga before shower or bath
  • ✴  Eat a warm breakfast
  • ✴  Drink warm water throughout the day
  • ✴  Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day
  • ✴  Walk or take some quiet time after eating
  • ✴  Practice one-minute mediations throughout the day
  • ✴  Eat a small dinner at least two hours before going to bed
  • ✴  Drink a nourishing beverage
  • ✴  Oil the crown of your head and your feet
  • ✴  Do a few minutes of meditation or pranayama, yoga postures or gentle stretching
  • ✴  Give thanks
  • ✴  Retire

This Introduction was prepaired by Brooksley Williams of Valley Ayurveda. If you have any questions please contact Brooksley via email or by phone: 413-320-8333.

Yoga for your Ayurvedic Constitution

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Karuna is currently leading a series of workshops Yoga for your Ayurvedic Constitution. Each workshop is focused on one of the three Doshas or constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The workshops are co-led by Vanessa Serotta, RYT- 500 and Brooksley Williams, certified Ayurvedic Practitioner.

VataVATA: A Grounding Practice
 Saturday, Aug. 29th, 1-3:30pm

PittaPITTA: A Centering Practice
 Saturday, Sept. 5th, 1-3:30pm

KaphaKAPHA: An Uplifting Practice
 Saturday, Sept. 12th, 1-3:30pm


In order to help us understand the way the body is perceived in Ayurvedic Medicine, Brooksley has provided some supplemental materials that we will be featuring here in the blog. If you have any questions please contact Brooksley via email or by phone: 413-320-8333.


10 Pairs of Opposites

Ayurveda draws on ten pairs of opposites to describe and in a way categorize all matter that exists in the universe. These qualities, or gunas, describe the interaction and inner-workings of the main energy forces – the Five Great Elements – on a particular object. They reflect the positive and negative, yin and yang of all forces in the universe. They are the basic qualities of all objects – physical or subtle. They provide a spectrum to describe the essence of our life.

Heavy ⇔ Light

 Cold⇔ Hot

Dull⇔ Sharp

Oily⇔ Dry Rough

 Smooth ⇔Rough

Dense ⇔Porous

Soft ⇔Hard

Static ⇔Mobile

Cloudy ⇔Clear

Solid ⇔  Liquid


At a practical level, our bodies as well as the foods we eat reflect a prevailing yet shifting degree and combination of these qualities. The underlying premise of all Ayurvedic practices and treatments is: like increases like and opposites balance each other. In this way, Ayurveda prescribes the use of foods, herbs, exercise, and daily routines with a specific set of these qualities in order to counter and heal specific imbalances in the body and mind.

In particular, all foods can be described using these 20 qualities – or ten pairs of opposites. For example, heavy foods include grains, cheese, yogurt, salty processed food and red meats whereas light foods include leafy veggies and herbs like turmeric and coriander. Cold foods include cucumber, watermelon and fennel while hot foods include ginger and chile peppers. Dry foods include millet, barley, dry fruits and toast, whereas oily foods include butter, ghee, oils, nuts and seeds, and fried foods. It is helpful to start thinking of food through these adjectives, in order to know what foods to eat to balance qualities that prevail in you based on yourMind/Body Constitution.



Yoga in Our Schools

Friday, July 24th, 2015




         I am proud to say that Dr. John A. Provost is our superintendent.  He asked the above question in a letter sent to all Northampton Public School employees, welcoming us to the new school year last August.  I was so struck by the depth and importance of this question that I wrote it up on a piece of paper, filled it with color, and hung it in my home yoga studio.  Now a mantra for me, it guides me daily in my work with children.  It is a question that, even after an entire year of quiet asking, still takes my breath away.
        Dr. Provost also wrote in his letter about the “social emotional gap” and the need to “work to develop students who are not only smart but also resilient and empathetic”.  Karuna in Sanskrit means compassion and anyone who has held Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Dog, for any length of time knows the importance of resilience.  Our practice of yoga at Karuna begins with a happy engagement in every pose.  It continues by being sensitive to the beauty of our mind, body, and breath connections.  It moves us towards virtue.  As one’s practice deepens, it profoundly changes the way a person feels and helps them to thrive in the challenge of life. This is true for anyone who practices yoga in a mindful way, no matter their age.
        Many students struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and even trauma.  It is my job, as a Tiered Support Specialist, to give these children the special support they need to be successful in our public schools.  The nectar of my yoga practice nourishes my ability to be strong and patient.  I sow seeds of strength and plant pods of patience in my students through mindful activities, precise movements, and specific breathing techniques.  I believe that yoga, meditation, and mindfulness in our schools can help our students to blossom as happy, socially engaged students who are more sensitive to beauty and more capable of virtue.
        Please join me in our quest to make yoga more accessible to children and to the people who care for them at

rebeca in sidhasanaRebeca Allessi is a graduate of the 200-hour Karuna Yoga Teacher Training Program and is certified by Yoga Ed to teach yoga in the schools, grades K – 8.  She is currently a Tiered Support Specialist at Jackson Street School and Bridge Street School here in Northampton.  She is also enrolled in Eileen’s 300-hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Program at The Yoga Loft in Albany. She has been a public school classroom teacher for over 20 years and has been taught the importance of truth and kindness by her hundreds of students. Rebeca is drawn to the Karuna community as a place where she can find inner peace and meaningful growth. She is dedicated to bringing the transformative power of the Eight Limb Path of yoga to people of all ages and abilities.

Yoga for Kids

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Recently I was asked to photograph a class of elementary school students at Karuna. I met them in the entrance and watched them race up the stairs, excited to see their teacher, Rebeca Allessi, for about an hour of yoga.


They were let into the studio in small groups, a method to mediate the high energy and excitement among them. They each had a mat waiting and, as they filed into the room, I could hardly imagine the practice of stillness that I find on my mat translating to these energized little bodies. I thought to myself; Rebecca has quite a task in front of her!

Yoga for kids is different than it is for adults. Movement is essential to the practice and engagement for kids comes far more through doing than contemplating. It was moving to watch the children embarking into this practice and inspiring to see how Rebecca was able to  help them harness their energy rather than stifle it. Each time Rebecca played the Shruti box they responded by getting into child’s pose, finding a moment for stillness.IMG_3547

The students have been practicing with Rebecca at their school over the past year. They know the names of poses, songs, sequences, and some games that introduce the practice of mindfulness. They transition from movement into stillness impressively and, just like many of us, are grateful for moments of rest.


By the end of the class there was so much sweetness and softness in the room. It was moving to watch the children practice. Kids seem so naturally open and receptive to expressions of love and this, in my opinion, makes yoga a great outlet for young people. Rebeca teaches a kids Yoga class is on Wednesdays 4-5 starting back up this September.

-Erin McNally

Please enjoy the gallery of images from class and check out the upcoming workshops with Rebeca Yoga For Parents and Teachers, teaching methods to “discover how your own yoga and mindfulness practice can be the most effective way to help the young people in your life to find focus, manage stress, and increase emotional regulation”.


rebeca in sidhasanaRebeca Allessi is a graduate of the 200-hour Karuna Yoga Teacher Training Program and is certified by Yoga Ed to teach yoga in the schools, grades K – 8.  She is currently a Tiered Support Specialist at Jackson Street School and Bridge Street School here in Northampton.  She is also enrolled in Eileen’s 300-hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Program at The Yoga Loft in Albany. She has been a public school classroom teacher for over 20 years and has been taught the importance of truth and kindness by her hundreds of students. Rebeca is drawn to the Karuna community as a place where she can find inner peace and meaningful growth. She is dedicated to bringing the transformative power of the Eight Limb Path of yoga to people of all ages and abilities.


Cittavrtti Nirodhah

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Each year at Karuna a new 200 hour teacher training begins. Students embark on a rigorous journey, employing their bodies, minds and spirits in a deep study of Yoga. The first questions asked for contemplation have a variety of answers, and those answers may change for individuals over the course of their training or throughout years of practice. The following questions are useful to contemplate and revisit for teacher trainees, teachers and student alike. Joanna Caplan, a current teacher trainee, shares her thoughts:


Given the definitions of yoga as “cittavrtti nirodhah” how does the way you do yoga challenge the way you think and feel? How does the way you think and feel challenge the way you do yoga? Discuss and be succinct.


In his translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, BKS Iyengar writes “yoga is thus the art and science of mental discipline through which the mind becomes cultured and matured” and yoga is “the control or restraint of the movements of consciousness, leading to their complete cessation” (Iyengar 50). In theory Patanjali’s system is precise, concrete, scientific, complex and accessible. So what does this mean in practice?

.This past month, I have begun to establish a regular home asana, pranayama and meditation practice. My past ten plus years of a semi-regular, on and off again asana practice rarely included a meditation component. In fact, it had been a while since my mind and I had come to greet each other in this way. While meditation is an accessible and concrete practice, I have found it to be challenging and confrontational. The mind is relentless in its chatter and as Maharaj says with such a beautiful bluntness in the collection of his talks entitled I am That, “mind means disturbance; restlessness itself is mind…Examine closely and you will see that the mind is seething with thoughts. It may go blank occasionally, but it does for a time and reverts to its usual restlessness” (Maharaj 126).

.I find the above statement to be radical and liberating. In my experience, there is an adage that through a yoga practice one will find “peace of mind”, however how can this be true if the very nature of the mind is restlessness itself? Furthermore, if we think about peace in this way, as something we can find or acquire then peace becomes yet another sensation, like good and bad, pain and pleasure. In relation to my asana practice, I have in fact found myself getting lost in the sensations of pain and pleasure. By the end of class, I want to feel a certain way, to be more calm, centered and peaceful. Maharaj says, “the peace you claim to have found is brittle – any little thing can crack it. What you call peace is only absence of disturbance…Real peace cannot be disturbed” (Maharaj 127). Therefore, the feeling I get after finishing an asana practice is just that, a feeling. Now I am not discounting my asana practice. Rather, I am beginning to observe my patterns, my habits, my cittavrtti, and in these observations I am beginning to hear and approach an understanding of what Patanjali is articulating.

.So how can yoga “the art and science of mental discipline through which the mind becomes cultured and matured” and “the control or restraint of the movements of consciousness, leading to their complete cessation” if according to Maharaj the mind can never be cultured or matured? I think it is because the mind, in yogic philosophy, is multidimensional and dynamic. It is not one thing. And we are actually not talking about the mind but about citta or consciousness, which contains the mind “consciousness is made up of three factors, mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and ego (ahamkara)” (Iyengar 49). So this is both a semantic issue (are we talking or writing about the mind or about consciousness) and a practical issue (are we getting wooed by sensations masquerading as “peace of mind”?).

.I do, however, observe moments of connecting to something deeper, to something that goes beyond sensation, feeling and mind, to something completely effortless. It is as though, for a moment, “instead of searching for what you have do not have, you find what it is you have never lost” (Maharaj 128). I think this is what Patanjali, Iyengar, Maharaj are talking about. I think that it can, in fact, be simple and effortless and one can begin to “realize the true peace, the peace you have never lost, that peace will remain with you, for it was never away from you” (Maharaj 128). So the practice becomes a practice of returning to oneself, or rather, realizing that “you are yourself, and no reason is needed” (Maharaj 128).

.I want my practice to be about surrender and release. I want my practice to remind me that I have never left myself, I am right here, deep, deep inside and all I have to do is listen.

Dream of Chloe

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Last year Chloe Rombach, one of the students in the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, was badly injured after being struck by a car. Her family has set up a GoFundMe site to help afford her care. Collective she is in all our thoughts and prayers. One of the other students from the training, Anna Hansen, has shared a recent dream she had about Chloe:

I’ve had a couple dreams of Chloe… in both she is with us,
on a reprieve of sorts, from her hospital/rehab stay.
This morning’s dream, just before awaking  …
I had taken a day trip with my family to Animal Kingdom.
I was last to get on the bus back home… everyone was curled
up in beds lined up through the bus, all cozy and warm. I went to
the back of the bus and Chloe was lying in the last bed, there were
no beds left. I sat on the foot of her bed.. she opened her eyes and
smiled. I looked out the window as the bus pulled away and suddenly
Chloe started singing with such heart and soul … I started crying and
looked back to see Deb and Alaina were also there. I looked at Chloe
and she sat up excitedly and said “LOOK!” , as she pointed to the sky,
I looked but only saw clouds with the sun trying to peak through .. I
couldn’t see what she was so excited about… I just looked back at
her and said ‘it’s beautiful’ … she giggled, was crawling along her bed
like a child and told us how appreciative she was for all our thoughts
and prayers, that she was aware and it made her happy that we all
continued to think of her. She was so playful and happy (which is
exactly how I saw her when she was in class in the back of the room trying
to kick up in her handstands, so cute). I looked out at her sky and she started singing again, so clear and beautiful … I awoke as I was texting you in my dream to tell you Chloe was singing.
Stay warm, cozy, and safe today!
Love, Anna
You can hear Chloe sing on this YouTube recording:

The Chandogya Upanishads

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
This response to the Chandogya Upanishads was written by Loren Magruder, a student at Karuna and a regular contributor to the Thursday evening philosophy discussion group.
“Smaller than a grain of rice
A grain of barley
A mustard seed
A grain of millet
Smaller even than the kernel of a grain of millet is the Self
This is the Self dwelling in the cave of my heart,
Greater than the earth
Greater than the Sky
Greater than all the Worlds”
Chandogya Upanishads
The Truth In Paradox- that this Self we Seek is infinitely small and unimaginably large… my mind winces as it tries to grasp the concept.  Paradox seems a common theme in the Upanishads, especially this Chandogya.  The word Upanishad literally means self-knowledge.  The Ancients paid such close attention to the elements Within and Without that they long recognized the micro within the macrocosmos and the macro within the microcosmos.   In recent times, there is an intriguing theory in Quantum Physics called Shrodinger’s cat… it still remains a theoretical supposition (I have a hunch it will always remain so as things of the Spirit are wily like that) That said it is widely discussed and books have been written on its validity. As I understand it, it basically proposes that if you put a cat in a box and close the lid that when you open the box the cat will be EITHER alive or dead but while the box is closed, the cat can simultaneously be BOTH alive and dead.  When we become time-bound is when reality collapses into EITHER one possibility or the other.  And the Upanishads and their truths have stood the test of time, haven’t they? Timeless, perennial wisdom indeed.
In my own life, the only force which could possibly hold this paradoxical truth is Love, the all-encompassing love some call God or Christ-Consciousness.  Our yogic commitment to svadhyaya; self-study within the contexts of the spiritual books (so that one doesn’t dive off the cliff into the swamp of narcissism) gives us the lens of the heart to glimpse it.  For the more one studies the self- the “mines”, the identifications, the stories — the more one recognizes how small the boxes actually are that contain these identities.  Like a magnifying glass in the sun rays svadhyaya burns away anything that isn’t truth and what is left IS a kernel; and in that kernel the recognition that we are not only this or that (neti-neti) we are something so much more and- as humility teaches – so much less.  This is the beginning of the journey into the Self, into clearing the channel we seek to be. Perhaps why we often get caught using substances or people to get out of our own way, inhabit the Other, to feel that fleeting sense of home in the unified field- if only for a minute.  The landmine here is that all these are ultimately time-bound and if we cling in any way to the sensations or constrict to remain in that moment, there is no way This Love can fully flow.  At the heart of the heart’s teaching, in the diamond center of the mustard seed is that every element in the Universe is contained in it… in US and if we accept this than how can we deny that this also exists in everyone and everything we see and commune with – indeed a common unity- “a community of light*” (thanks Hafiz)
And the more you study the Self, the closer in you get, the more you see the patterns, the samskaras embedded in the helix, the fractals repeating through the generations.  Fractals are proof of this Essential Sameness no matter the scale.  Polarity like gravity is a sort of container and can remind us of the One in the All, of the Yin in the Yang, of the Life IN the Death and the Death IN the Life.   If we only dance with the peripheral, the superficial and the transitory time-bound and Ego-Fear of disintegration keeps us from delving deeper, we will miss the heart of this teaching.   If we cast stones of judgment at those we think evil or wrong or different we will remain in darkness- for Einstein showed us that the Speed of Light is timeless indeed.  So, can we – can I – hold this paradoxical truth, that the I AM is as capable of that which we fear or despise as it is of that which we love and hold dear and that individual CHOICE – the assertion of personal agency through this particular body vehicle seems to me to be the key.   Perhaps it is only then that an absolute integration into this love can happen… and within that integration lies the seed.  And in that seed the fruition and fuller expression of the unique individual we are in this time-bound lifetime is possible.
Loren Magruder, 500hr Karuna Advanced Teacher Training Graduate, Mother

The Metal Element

Saturday, September 27th, 2014


This month Karuna’s 500-hour Five Element Shiatsu training focused on The Metal Element, Jin.  Jin represents Autumn, and much like the harvest season, Jin’s characteristics are of decline but also of substance, strength and structure. The Metal Element is associated with the emotions of grief and sadness and also courage and dignity. In the body the metal element represents the lungs and large intestines. In a post about Autumn and The Metal Element from Elements of Healing,  acupuncturist Scott Molan writes:


“The Metal element has the quality of contraction.  In its natural state Metal is hard and was used as the most exterior part of one’s clothing in the form of armor.  However, if heated up, it could be shaped and molded to make shields, swords etc.  This element is also related to minerals that are born out of the earth and infuses life to water as it flows over the ground.

The lungs and large intestine organs are associated with the metal element according to Chinese medicine and acupuncture.  These two organs in many ways have the same resonance and qualities as described above.  The lungs are similar to a bellows, in that they expand when air is brought in and contract when releasing carbon dioxide.  This is similar to the expansion and contraction that is seen in the element metal.  Likewise, the large intestine contracts (peristalsis) in order to empty, hopefully on a daily basis.  These two organs are considered our armor in many ways and like metal armor, are the most exterior of our organs, being directly connected to the outside environment.

One of the most important lessons that the metal element can teach us is in letting go.  We learn this lesson from the lungs and large intestine.  We can take a breath in and it nourishes us with needed oxygen, but we can not hold the breath for very long.  Eventually we must let go of that air, to make room for more as our body utilizes what it has just taken in.  Similarly the large intestine needs to let go of what it is holding so we can eliminate what we don’t need.”

The transition of the seasons can be quite challenging on our respiratory systems. Supporting faculty Chris Marano of Clearpath Herbals provided information on treatment of lung disharmonies with herbal remedies. Along with herbal supplementation, Chris recommends we:

  • Avoid foods that congest lungs, including refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, dairy, and any food to which there is a food sensitivity;
  • Utilize foods that counteract the energetics of the Lung invasion, e.g. cooling foods for hot invasion, warming foods for cold invasion, mucilaginous foods for dry invasion;
  • Steam inhalation (with herbs and/or appropriate essential oils) are useful;
  • Herbs in general include those lymph tonics, antiviral herbs, antibacterial herbs, antiseptic herbs, expectorant herbs, herbs that drain Damp-Heat (as from Intestines).
  • Important either to use herbs that do not amplify but counteract the energetic nature of the Lung invasion, or to temper the energetics of an herb chosen with others that balance the energetics.
  • Foods that strengthen Deficient Lungs include decongesting proteins and naturally sweet foods, including organically raised, grass fed meats, especially lamb, root vegetables and squashes, high in assimilable complex carbohydrates and beta-carotene, super-foods and mineral-salt rich foods (especially if they have a mucilaginous component), such as sea vegetables, spirulina, chlorella, dark green leafy vegetables and wild greens. Also cooked members of the onion-garlic family, including chives and scallions.

Additionally Chris prepared a lung health tincture with herbs grown locally. Here is a list of herbs that are beneficial to lung health and function.




Adaptogens: herbs and mushrooms that help body and mind adapt to stressors of all kinds, and also replenish the Core (Chinese Kidneys). All help the Lung yin and Lung qi, and many help the Lungs more specifically. Examples include American Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Astragalus, Codonopsis, Cordyceps, Eleuthero, Ginseng, Licorice, Reishi, Rhodiola, Schisandra. These are all major Lung medicines.

Andrographis: Clears Heat, Dries Dampness; antiviral, antimicrobial, antiseptic, treats Lung EPI with heat, including wide range of Lung conditions, sore and swollen throat.

Chickweed: Clears Heat, Dislodges Phlegm; demulcent, nutritive, heals tissue, moistens mucosa, loosens hot-dry phlegm.

Chinese Asparagus (Tian men dong): Moistens Lungs, Clears Lung Heat; antibacterial, treats Dry Lung patterns including dry mouth, thick stuck sputum, weak lungs, TB, strep.

Echinacea: Clears Heat, Releases Exterior; treats acute respiratory EPIs, allergies, strep, stimulates surface immune system.

Elecampane root: Redirects Qi Downward, Expels Phlegm; treats hot congested lungs, wheezing, copious clear or white phlegm, acute and chronic illnesses, congested Lungs, wheezing.

Fenugreek: Strengthens Lung Yin, Moistens Lungs, Transforms Phlegm; treats deficiency, wheezing, dry cough.

Garlic: Disperses Cold and Phlegm, Releases Exterior; antimicrobial, treats EPIs broad range, Damp-Cold painful chest distention from congealed cold phlegm, including wheezing.

Ginger: Lungs, Transforms Phlegm, Rescues Devastated Yang; treats Cold Lung disorders with congestion, weakness, lethargy, thin, watery phlegm. Releases Exterior,Promotes Sweating, Disperses Cold, Stops Coughing, Invigorates Wei Qi; treats colds, flu, Cold-Damp Wind-Cold EPIs, sweating with no improvement, cute and chronic coughing (infections and emphysema.

Ginkgo: Astringes Lung Qi, Strengthens Lung, Stops Pain; treats wheezing, cough, “Kidneys Cannot Grasp Lung Qi.”

Golden Seal: Clears Heat, Drains Fire; antibacterial, antiseptic, treats EPIs and chronic respiratory infections, with fever, irritability, thirst, cough, thick yellow phlegm, refrigerant in fever management, antibacterial, including sinusitis, pharyngitis, thrush, bronchitis, strep, tonsillitis, sore throat.

Ground Ivy: Clears Heat, Transforms Phlegm; expectorant, antiseptic, resolves congestion, treats colds, flus, bronchitis.

Horehound: Clears Phlegm; excellent expectorant.

Hyssop: Wind, Clears Phlegm; decongestant, expectorant, antiviral, antibacterial, treats Hot or Cold EPI, allergies.

Irish Moss: Clears Heat, Transforms Phlegm, Builds Lung Yin; demulcent, nutritive, soothes and heals dried, damaged tissue, lung heat with difficult expectoration; swollen glands.

Lobelia: Dispels Wind, Drains Dampness; antispasmodic, stops coughing, wheezing, spastic cough, asthma, also clears floating edema.

Marshmallow root: Moistens Lungs; stops Dry Cough, soothes and heals damaged, irritated, ulcerated tissue.

Mullein: Relaxes and Tones Tissue, Expels Phlegm; astringes and soothes tissue, mild expectorant, treats broad range EPIs.

Nettles: Strengthens Tissue, Nourishes Lung Blood; nutritive tonic, strengthens mucosa.

Ophiopogon/Turf Lily (Mai men dong): Moistens Lungs, Stops Coughing, Nourishes Yin; useful when Lung Yin has been injured, dry cough, thick sputum difficult to expectorate.

Plantain: Moistens and Astringes Tissue, Transforms Phlegm; soothing, mild expectorant, stops bleeding, rebuilds tissue.

Platycodon/Balloon Flower (Jie geng): Disseminates Lung Qi, Expels Phlegm, Specific Harmonizer; treats Wind-Heat or Wind-Cold coughs, Lung abscesses, loss of voice, redirects effects of herbs to lungs and head.

Propolis: Clears Heat, Tones Tissue; antiseptic, astringent, expectorant, treats infections, allergies, strengthens voice.

Slippery Elm: Moistens Lungs, stops Dry Cough, soothes and heals damaged, irritated, ulcerated tissue.

Solomon’s Seal: Moistens and Strengthens Lungs; treats dry, unproductive coughing from Lung Qi and Yin deficiency, wheezing, TB, chronic bronchitis.

Spilanthes: Clears Heat, Releases Exterior; antimicrobial, antiseptic, treats acute respiratory EPIs, allergies, strep, stimulates surface immune response.

Thyme: Clears Heat, Moves Phlegm; antimicrobial, expectorant, antiseptic, treats Cold-damp Lung EPIs, bronchitis, pneumonia.

Wild Cherry: Tones Tissue, Transforms Cough; astringent, antispasmodic, treats coughing, asthma, allergies, weakened tissue.


Eileen Muir provided two recipes to nurture the lungs, detox for respiratory and intestinal health, and to savor in this season of amazing harvest and fecundity:

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup for Nourishment












All ingredients should be organic.

  • ½ head of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1 leek
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 nice, big, fat beet
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 inches of daikon
  • splash olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (to tatse)
  • approx. 10 leaves basil
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 handful thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • approx. 1.5 pints water
  • salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Chop all root vegetables into large cubes.  Splash with olive oil, cumin, and cayenne.  Roast in the oven for 35 minutes.  Bring about 1.5 pints of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add roasted vegetables to pot and cook 5 minutes.  Add all of the herbs to pot and simmer until cooked.  Remove the bay leaves.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pulverize the soup (in a blender, with an immersion blender, etc.).  Eat.  Yum!


Fall Detox Smoothie












All ingredients should be organic.

  • 1 cup green grapes
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 pear
  • 2 cups curly and Italian parsley
  • 5 leaves kale
  • 1 big, fat cucumber
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds (pre-soaked)
  • 1 tsp. hemp seeds (pre-soaked)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pint water
  • maple syrup to taste (I like 1 tbsp.)


Blend all ingredients and enjoy!  Yummy!


B.K.S Iyengar Instructing a Class- 1977

Monday, September 22nd, 2014