Spring Equniox 2015

Happy Spring Equinox!

We have had such a strange winter season: the West coast seems to have started its spring season very early, with the end of January witnessing blooms that don’t often come up until March; meanwhile our friends and family on the east coast have had an unusually cruel winter, continually buried deep in ice and snow.

So even though today Friday, March 20, officially marks the start of the Spring season, our bodies, much like the early blooms of spring flowers, have been tricked to “bloom” a little earlier than expected by this unusual warm weather. Rather than having had a good three to four months to go within so we could give our emotional, spiritual, and physical bodies a hibernating break, we’ve been finding ourselves busier than ever, perhaps being a bit more social than usual for the winter months.

To offset this imbalance, try to find some quiet time in your busy schedule to breathe and come down into your core (third chakra, belly area).  A few minutes of introspective time will help restore the balance of our system.  You can also honor the spring equinox by doing a cleanse or going to a meditation or yoga retreat this coming month.  I recommend going to your local Farmers market and picking up some seasonal fruits and vegetables. Eating local and seasonal foods will help adjust your blood to the changing season. Getting an acupuncture treatment can also help bring us closer to what our body and spirit needs at this time, tonifying our Qi and Yang and harmonizing our body’s gradual awakening to the new season.  Really, any conscious down time can help bring awareness to the changing seasons happening on a deeper, energetic level.

To prepare for spring, I often undertake a 3-5 day juice cleanse because it helps me notice the changes happening in my body as well as awaken my senses completely.  Here is one of my all-time favorite recipes:

GREE JUICE RECIPE:

5 Handfuls of Spinach
3 Kale Leaves
3 Celery Stalks
½ Cucumber
½ Lemon
2 Granny Smith Apples

Process ingredients in a juicer or blender and enjoy!

I look forward to helping you transition this season so please contact me if you’d like to set up a treatment in the coming weeks.
Best wishes,

Sascha

Fall Equinox 2014

The Fall equinox has approached once more, and we come full circle to the start of this blog project. My intention then was to help my patients become more aware with how our physical and emotional well-being are connected to the changing seasons and times. It gave me great pleasure to show so many of you how our moods and thoughts were related to our outside surroundings. With more awareness, many of you have become more in tune with how our mind, body and spirit responds to what is going on around us. I hope you continue to welcome this blog project as a marker of the changes and growth we are all experiencing. Thank you for sharing your journey with me.

And now, onto Fall…

Today, September 22, marks the moment when the temperatures begin to drop (here in the Bay less so than in other parts of the world!). The days get shorter, and the nights get longer. As we witness later dawns and earlier sunsets, our bodies start yearning for more sleep. During the summer months, we may have partied a bit more than is our natural inclination, perhaps going to bed a little later than our routine and waking up a little earlier with the sun. But as the autumn months approach, our bodies will want to sleep in a little more, responding to the sun rising a little later in the day. Unfortunately, many of us cannot sleep in on a work day so try getting to bed a little earlier to give your body the rest it is craving.

Actually, your body is preparing itself for the coming months of slowing down for introspection. During the summer, we tended to move faster – we were more active, we had a lot of fun, we were more social and we engaged with the world a bit more. But the time has come to slow down and to reflect on what came to pass during the summer months. Now, we can think about our successes and failures, making sure to learn from our mistakes rather than beat ourselves for them. We can meditate on our growth, and we can think about the kinds of changes we would like to implement in the following year.

Take time to process the emotions that are coming up during this time of introspection. Do not judge them, but let them pass, whatever they may be. This season is associated emotionally with grief and sadness, so allow these emotions to arise and stay present with them. There’s no “right” time frame so be patient with yourself.

It is also good to come back to the breath. A few minutes of meditation in the morning can help bring our awareness to our bodies, and stretching during the day can help us with the slowing down process of the coming months. Drinking more water will also be good to help flush our systems. Begin transitioning to eating more warm, cooked foods. Go to a farmers market and see what fruits and vegetables are in season, since these crops will be most nourishing to your body at this time. We will need to nourish our bodies and support them through these changes.

An acupuncture treatment may also help the mind, body, and spirit get ready for the changing season. Acupuncture during this season helps to strengthen the Lungs, thus helping prevent colds and flus in the coming winter months. I’m happy to help guide you through these transitions so feel free to come in for a treatment anytime!

Happy Fall,
Sascha

Vegetable & Barley Soup Recipe

Ingredients:
• 1 onion, diced
• 1 shallot, diced
• 2 stalks of celery, diced
• 3 cloves of garlic, diced
• 2 tbsp of olive oil
• 2 carrots, peeled and diced
• 8 mushrooms, cleaned and diced
• 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
• 2 zucchini, diced
• 12 cherry tomatoes, chopped into quarters
• 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
• 1 400g tin of diced tomatoes
• 2 cups of barley
• 2 liters of vegetable stock

Method:
1. In a large soup pot, over a medium heat, sauté the onion, shallot, celery and garlic in the olive oil until the onion begins to turn translucent.
2. Add the carrot, parsnip, mushrooms and zucchini and cook until they start to soften.
3. Then add the cherry tomatoes and thyme and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes and barley. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the barley is tender.

http://www.deliciouseveryday.com/vegetable-and-barley-soup/

Summer Solstice 2014

Happy Summer Solstice!

The official first day of summer, June 21st, is fast approaching, and now is a good time to take advantage of our vibrancy and fully flourish.  Summer is associated with the fire element, which corresponds with the Heart: joy, passion, and the drive for building community.

During the summer solstice, the outer-fire of the sun is at its maximum, so this is also the best time to strengthen our inner sun: the fire in our core.  We are strongest when our inner core is ignited—our health is most balanced, and we feel empowered to process the changes happening in our lives.  Cultivating this inner fire helps keep our heat grounded in our center so it doesn’t float to our head causing migraines or insomnia, or over-flush our skin causing eczema or acne.  When our Yang energy isn’t stabilized and well circulated, we have heat and stagnation, leading to arthritis, high blood pressure, headaches, among other things, and just in general a feeling of stress.  We remain overheated rather than cooled; stressed instead of relaxed; our minds feel restless, scattered, or anxious rather than at peace.

Since summer is the most Yang time of the year, our body is most full of heat and energy.  Even us folks here in San Francisco have experienced some unusually warm weather, as California remains in a drought. We will sweat more as the body responds to the influences of the summer season.  Sweating is good because it is the body’s natural cooling strategy, and the Yang energy is the motivational force that opens and closes our pores to send the sweat out.  Sometimes, however, we sweat too much, which leads to overheating, so during the summer months, we must always replenish the fluids we lose from our activities.  There’s no need to drink too many iced beverages though – ice constricts our digestive systems and may lead to indigestion.  An excellent alternative to ice-cold drinks is fruit juices to help cool down your system.  You could also splash your water with fresh lemon juice or add cucumber, a cooling-agent, to your water.

 

Some suggestions to help keep your circulation and heart balanced during the summer:

*Socialize: celebrate the joy of summer with others; be outdoors, have fun, go out!

*Swim: the cooling Yin water helps to balance the summer Yang.

*Remain active: ride your bike, take walks or go for a run.

*Be carefree: let your anxieties rest and allow yourself to travel, relax, and be leisurely.

*Complete projects: because you have the most energy this time of the year, the summer months are the best time to complete projects that you’ve started.

*Drink cooling teas like chrysanthemum or green tea.

*Eat melons on hot days; eat more frequent, smaller meals, light soups and light suppers, and reduce intake of dairy products and heavy seasonings.

*Get an acupuncture treatment for balancing the body, mind and spirit and to unleash your core energy.

 

Here’s a light, refreshing recipe that’s especially good for the summer:

Kelp Noodles Pad Thai

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag of Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1 Green Onion
  • Bean Sprouts, 2 cups
  • Carrots, 2-4 slices
  • Sesame Oil, 1/2 tbls
  • 1 garlic clove

Sauce:

  • Red Chili Pepper Flakes
  • Peanut butter,2 tbls
  • Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, 1 tbsp
  • Hot Sauce, 1 tbsp
  • Soy Sauce, 1 tbsp
  • 1 lime

Toppings:

  • Peanuts, crushed, 10 peanuts
  • Cilantro, 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Basil, to garnish

Directions:

Start off by making the sauce. Mix all of the ingredients together.

  1. Wash and slice all of the vegetables in bite-size pieces.
  2. Crush the peanuts for the garnish.
  3. Rinse the kelp noodles under hot water. This helped to “relax” them. Either take your clean scissors and cut them up a bit or use a knife and cut them. They seem to be one long noodle, so for serving into portions, you need to have some separation to the noodles
  4.  Pan fry the vegetables that you have chosen. In this case, it is red pepper with some garlic.  But you can use broccoli, asparagus, spinach, or whatever is in season.
  5. Add in the kelp noodles and start cooking them for about 1 minute.
  6. Add in the sauce and cook again until the sauce is hot. You can then move this portion of the dish into serving plates.
  7. Quickly sauté the carrots and bean sprouts. Don’t overcook, this is just to get them warm.

Place bean sprouts and carrots on top of the noodles and then garnish with crushed peanuts, basil, and cilantro.

  1. Serve and Enjoy!

(Modified from http://www.pinkspantry.com/2013/05/kelp-noodle-phad-thai.html)

Sending good health, and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Sascha, Tree of Qi Acupuncture Clinic

Spring Equinox 2014

Happy Spring!

Finally, the Spring Equinox arrives on March 20, marking time for growth and rebirth. Many of us spent the winter months going within – and what an unusually dry and mild winter it was, at least for us folks in the Bay Area! Finally, we are starting to feel a sense of truly going outward begin and as we feel these new energies come to life, we may feel inspired to make changes in our lives.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Spring Equinox means renewal. It’s good to remember that we all process this seasonal change differently. Some immediately look forward to the new beginnings, but some feel intense irritability and anxiety associated with what feels like an abrupt change. We all have different internal clocks and rhythms, and while this process happens quickly for some, it happens more slowly for others. Some feel awakened by the energy build-up of the equinox while some bodies become anxious from the pressure rising inside them. Both processes are absolutely normal. So remember to breathe!

I would like to encourage us to honor all the feelings that the equinox brings, be it happiness or anger.  Surely, we’re happy that springis here, but sometimes, we also get angry because anger is a natural reaction to uncertainties that come with change. In its balanced state, anger is healthy because it helps dispel tension and restore balance. An unbalanced state often comes out in outbursts or in the tendency to judge others (and ourselves!) too quickly and rashly.  So when you start feeling angry, just let it all out!  It’s much better to release than to hold onto it internally – we eventually explode and feel the worse for it (and our loved ones too ;).

So as winter turns to spring, let’s consider bringing more balance into our lives through self-care, such as breathing and exercising, cleaning up our diets and maybe even doing a cleanse to detox the liver. The liver ensures that qi flows smoothly and keeps the blood, energy and emotions moving through our system to align the body, mind and spirit. TCM believes that tonifying and cleansing the liver organ can help prepare us for these seasonal changes.

Here are some helpful tips on how to tonify and cleanse the liver organ this spring:

*Keep moving – get outside and take walks in nature. This gets your blood and qi moving.

*Spring cleaning – create space for new things to come in, both physically and energetically. Recycle things that you’re no longer using. This frees up our internal energy, releasing blockages and welcoming increased vitality.

*Start afresh – let go of old resentments and practice forgiveness. Open the heart to new emotions and energies. This ensures that qi and blood move through the the whole body freely, especially opening up the chest and belly, relieving blood pressure and increasing digestion.

*Try something new – take a risk and try a new class, activity or restaurant. Go on an
adventure, no matter how small, and welcome new experiences into your life. This practice may catapult you to new levels of well-being – challenging old patterns and habits.

*Get sun and drink plenty of water to help nourish the liver. Perhaps start your day with a juice. Yes – sun is still the one of the best ways to boost your energy and increase your natural vitamin D stores. And add lemon to your water for extra cleansing!

*Get an acupuncture treatment – Acupuncture is one of the best ways to help move and smoothe our internal energies, helping us to adjust to internal and external changes and tonifying our organs.

 

Here’s a simple Spring receipe to tonify and cleanse your body:

GREEN JUICE RECIPE:
5 Handfuls of Spinach
3 Kale Leaves
3 Celery Stalks
½ Cucumber
½ Lemon
2 Granny Smith Apples

Add some filtered water and process ingredients in your Vitamix (ok ok, a regular blender would work too ;)) and enjoy!

I look forward to helping you bring balance into your lives so feel free to contact me anytime to set up an appointment.

Best wishes!
Sascha

Winter Solstice 2014

Greetings,

In my last blog, I shared that Fall is the season to prepare for the Winter months. As we approach the Winter Solstice(December 21, 2013), we can take the time to honor the stillness that sits deep in ourselves, and avoid exertion of energy.  The Winter is a time to embrace solitude and introspection and to return to a practice of acceptance and integration of the year and it’s lessons. I know for many of us the holidays can be stressful and anything but restful and introspective – so just do your best, even if that means a short walk around the block by yourself or 5 minutes of relaxed breathing with your smart phone off 😉

Chinese tradition sees the Winter Solstice as a time of transition when the Yin movement toward darkness transitions to the Yang movement toward light.  The 21st is the shortest day and the longest night of the year, and there is belief that there is a moment of perfect harmony between the Yin and Yang on this day, which leads to new creation and rebirth.  December then is a good month to reflect on our light and dark parts, to accept both as vital parts of us, and to see them not as good versus bad but as what makes us beautiful, unique and ever evolving.  Within the darkness there exists light and in the light exists moments of darkness.  We need both for balance and for growth, for without darkness, we would never grow into lighter versions of ourselves.

During this time, some of us may feel moody,  fearful, depressed or lethargic. Don’t force yourself to do any extraneous activities and allow yourself to just feel these feelings.  They are okay and natural.  Understanding our emotions as part of Nature’s cycles can help slow us down so we may appreciate the quiet and peace that is  always present, deep down, once we allow ourselves to move through these feelings.  Our bodies instinctively want to rest, reflect, conserve and store energy so that we are ready for the outburst of activity in the coming year. Some of us may feel pressured to be outgoing during a season full of holiday parties and family gatherings. But it’s perfectly okay to be introspective and connect with your deeper feelings even within a gathering – it might make for some interesting and real interactions!

Winter is associated with the Water Element and the Kidneys, which are the source of Qi, Blood and Essence and which govern the energy to heal, to prevent illness and to help with aging gracefully.  Since the Kidneys govern the low back, be mindful of back injuries, which persist in the Winter months and keep this area warm and covered.  Digestion also slows down as well as circulation so it is a good time to take lots of deep breaths and practice restorative yoga to nourish your Qi.  Also, it is important to eat warming foods like hearty soups and stews, whole grains, roasted nuts, root vegetables, beans, ginger, miso and seaweed to warm the core and nourish the Yin.  Make sure you sleep early, rest well, relax and release stress on a regular basis.  Try to include more yoga, meditation, breathing and naps into your daily routine. Seasonal acupuncture and herbal medicine can also help nourish the organ system and bring balance and harmony to your system.

Sending good health, and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Sascha, Tree of Qi Acupuncture Clinic

Winter Recipes:

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Shitake Mushroom and Miso Soup

Ingredients
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts separated
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
8 cups water
3 (6-inch) pieces dried kelp (kombu)
1/4 cup bonito flakes
3 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup light miso
1 pound baby bok choy, cut in quarters

———————————————————————————-

Warming carrot soup

1/2 pound carrots
cracked pepper
1/2 orange pepper
some sprinkles of curry powder
1 avocado
couple squeezes of lime water
some cilantro
3 cloves of garlic

Blend in high-speed blender until warm and smooth.  Garnish with more cilantro.

Directions
In a large soup pot over medium heat add the scallion white parts,
ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Cook for 1 minute and add 8 cups
water. Rinse the kombu and add it to the pot along with the bonito
flakes. Bring it to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes – do not let it
boil. Remove the kombu and set it aside. Add the dried mushrooms and
miso to the pot and let it simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or
until the mushrooms are hydrated and tender. Add the bok choy and
simmer until it is tender, about 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and
garnish with the reserved green parts of scallions. You can also
garnish with Crisp Soba Noodles

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/hearty-shiitake-mushroom-and-miso-soup-recipe/index.html


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